Hey mamas & mamas-to-be,
If you’re a new mom, you’ve probably noticed your core and abdomen looks (and maybe feels) a bit different than before. Maybe you've also noticed a feeling of weakness in your core and abdominal wall, or maybe you've felt and seen bulging/coning along the midline of your stomach during certain movements, like getting in and out of bed, or even coughing. Don't stress - this is actually all very common! Remember, you just grew and birthed a beautiful baby! Your body went through some of the biggest and most significant changes it will ever face in order to accommodate the development and growth of new life! In today's post, we'll be covering the ins and outs of healing diastasis recti and reviewing 3 exercises for new moms.
Whether you're a new mom, a "seasoned" mom, or a mama-to-be, you may have heard a bit of talk and concerns about getting rid of the "mom pooch" and fears over having Diastasis Recti (DR)...
You may have even asked yourself questions like:
"Can I change how my stomach looks?"
"Will this mom pooch ever go away?"
"Can I close the gap?"
"Will my abs ever feel strong again?"
If you have, you will love today's blog post where we're diving deep into Diastasis Recti. If this is a new term to you, it simply means the natural separation of the abdominal muscles that occurs during pregnancy; and you may be shocked to hear that nearly almost 100% of pregnant women will experience DR during their pregnancy. It is completely normal and expected as our bodies prepare for those growing babes. It's also important to understand that working towards DR healing is far more than just "getting a flat stomach" or "losing the mom pooch" - it's more-so (and more importantly) about regaining strength and function of your deep core and pelvic floor muscles.
We're going to cover:
What DR is
What it means to actually "heal" DR
3 exercises that may help DR
What is Diastasis Recti? Diastasis recti is the natural separation of the abdominal muscles that occurs during pregnancy. Yes, natural - and very, very common - you're not alone! Having DR does not mean you have tears, holes, a hernia or anything of the sorts. It simply refers to the stretching and thinning of the linea alba (the connective tissue joining the two sides of the rectus abdominis muscles). Because of the natural stretching of our abdominal walls and muscles during pregnancy, there is no current research demonstrating that DR can be avoided entirely since again, it is our bodies natural response to a growing baby. Diastasis recti is most commonly diagnosed by a qualified professional, like a pelvic health physio, and is based on the width of the gap between the muscles (a width of two fingerbreadths or more on a curl up is typically classified as a diastasis). If it feels like you can sink your fingers into the abdomen along the midline with very little resistance (above or below your belly button), it’s a good idea to reach out to a physiotherapist for guidance.
What Does “Healing” Diastasis Recti Mean? Understanding and learning how to "heal" DR is less focused on the physical appearance, and more focused on strengthening the connective tissue density and regaining the function and strength of the abdominal wall.
That said, can DR be healed postpartum? How much healing time and rehabilitation exercises your DR requires depends on several different factors which may include: genetics, age, number of pregnancies, and width and depth of your DR). However, there is GOOD NEWS in this. We do know that exercise can help improve the strength and function of your abdominal wall both during and after pregnancy. Below are five exercises that are a good option to start with during pregnancy and in the early postpartum period. *Please note if you have a more significant gap of 2 fingerbreadths, or a feel lack of tension (i.e., your linea alba feels soft and your fingertips sink into your abdomen), consult with a physical therapist or pelvic floor physio before implemening.*
Perform 2-3 sets of each exercise for 10–12 reps (alternating sides when relevant) for each of the following exercises. If you're currently pregnant and are looking for a comprehensive fitness program to safely and effectively workout during your pregnancy, I highly recommend checking out my Train Like a Mother Prenatal and Pregnancy eBook! GLUTE BRIDGE