Diastasis RectiSeptember 27, 2016
What is it? How Do I Recover?
Ah, pregnancy…such a wonderful time in a woman’s life. Decorating a nursery, dressing your adorable baby bump, stretchy clothes and eating that second piece of cake because…well, you can, are some of the perks that take place as you await your precious bundle – the most exciting one of all! Unfortunately, once the pregnancy is over, you may be one of the “lucky” ones that develop diastasis recti: when the two parallel bands of muscles that meet in the middle of the abdomen separate. The separation often lessens in the months that follow, however, some degree of separation might remain up to a year after childbirth and beyond (www.mayoclinic.com). Most women can rely on specific exercises to help regain strength. Others, unfortunately, may need to see a physical therapist or have surgery.
So, how do I know if I have diastasis recti anyway? First, lie on your back with your knees bent. Next, place your fingers on your belly button (you will also check above the belly button and below it). Lift your head and neck off of the ground activating your abdominal muscles and see if there is a gap.
How do I treat it with exercise? Performing a standard crunch or sit up is NOT recommended at first. According to befitmom.com, “a critical component for restoring your abs and the development of core strength is learning to control the shape of your abdominal wall during exercise. You need to train your abs to pull back in during exertion during exercise.” Focus on pulling your belly button toward your spine. Some exercises that can help close the gap gently are core contractions (inhale and then exhale to contract abs), wall push ups and squats. These three exercises will “fire up” the abs without lots of pressure like a sit up/crunch would do.
As always, please consult with a doctor if you think you might have diastasis recti. Not all exercises fall under a “one size fits all.” While it is extremely important to think about yourself and the healing process after one gives birth, take the time in the beginning to enjoy/get accustomed to your new life. My goodness, babies grow so fast!