Before I was pregnant, I had no idea how my body was going to change to bring in this little person into the world. Once she was here, I felt like I had to learn how to be me again. I found out that during pregnancy my body had developed Diastasis Recti.
Diastasis Recti is the separation of the abdominal muscles. Most commonly occurs as a result of pregnancy.
Some women are just prone to this abdominal separation, but there are some factors that increase the likelihood of it occurring:
Carrying multiples or having a larger singleton pregnancy (baby over 9 pounds) can cause diastasis recti to form.
My daughter was 9 pounds at birth, so that was probably the cause of mine.
Sometimes this separation will heal on its own, but there are exercises to increase the healing process.
Immediately following childbirth, wearing an abdominal binder will encourage the abdominal muscles to return to mid-line and prevent any more damage to occur. I personally have used the Squeem and the Cinch abdominal binders. Neither of these roll down, but I do find that they ride up when I’m wearing them while sitting down. I like both of these products though and I think they really did help support my abs. They also just help me remember to pull in my abs and keep them tight.
If you have been losing weight, but that belly bulge just won’t go away… you may have diastasis recti.
Check too see if you have Diastasis Recti:
- Lay down on the floor with your knees bent.
- Place your fingers at your belly button pointing down.
- Slowly raise your head off the floor and feel for a separation of a finger-width or more.
When I did this test, I could feel my abs coming together when I raised my head off the floor. My separation was 2 finger-widths.
If you also feel a gap when you check, it will need to heal before you begin any traditional abdominal exercises or you will do more harm than good. (Limit crunches, planks, sit-ups)
After my first baby, I wore an abdominal binder for 8 weeks. I was able to move to more traditional ab exercises by 3 months.
During my second pregnancy, I could feel that my abs were stretching even more than with my first. She was a smaller baby, but my abs were just already weaker. My abs had a harder time coming back together the second post partum period too
Exercises to Avoid:
These traditional abdominal exercises put way too much pressure on your abdominals and further complicate the separation.
Before starting these exercises, you need to strengthen your inner core to be able to hold your belly in and work like a natural girdle.
Exercises for Diastasis Recti:
Instead of traditional abdominal exercises that pull the muscles apart, we want to focus on pulling the muscles closer together.
The best thing is that you can do these anywhere!! I even did them on and off for several hours straight on a long car ride over the holidays.
One exercise that engages your core the best is to pull in your belly button like you are trying to zip up some tight jeans.
To do this, focus on pulling your belly button in as far as you can when sitting or going about your day. This simple technique will engage the transverse abdominal muscles and strengthen your natural girdle. Wearing an abdominal splint will also encourage your muscles to stay together.
As a bonus, this helps me with my posture and helps strengthen my back at the same time.
- You can pull your belly in slowly and hold it or pulse and then let go.
- Take a deep breath in, pull in your belly button, then slowly let the air go and control how your belly releases.
- Focus on posture and keeping your belly tight
For more exercises check out these links below:
Free Exercises From Real Simple.com
You can join Fit2Be.com (not an affiliate link, I just think it is a great plan) for a small monthly membership for at home exercises and support for healing Diastasis Recti. These will focus on strengthening your inner core and bring your abs back together.
Hope these tips help you reach your goals!
P.S. Hey Healthy Mama! After my baby was born, I was really struggling. Not only could I not workout because of Diastais Recti, but I was really having trouble losing weight too. Here are 5 Reasons you may be struggling to lose and one tip to help! Click for More Info