Pregnancy & childbirth have a huge impact on our bodies. Our tummies are stretched beyond recognition & we are left with this pouch of jelly that has a life of its own. Have you ever stopped to think whether it is just a mummy tummy or do you have Diastasis Recti (Separation of the abdominal muscles).
Diastasis Recti is very common in postnatal mothers & can leave you feeling very negative towards your post baby body. The good thing about Diastasis Recti is that is is easily fixed with the right exercises as well as seeing a physiotherapist who is an expert in Woman’s Health.
So how do you know if you have a mummy tummy or Diastasis Recti?
A Key Sign is that your tummy button has changed, meaning that if you can easily feel the inside of your navel when previously you could not.
HOW TO ASSESS
To do this yourself, you need to lie down on your back & feel your abdominal muscles. Try to feel the inside edge of the muscle.
Lift your head & shoulders off the floor as if you were doing a crunch & feel for a Separation between the two sides of the muscle.
Measure the space by using your fingers, and work your way down from the top of your abdominals to the pubic bone.
HOW TO FIX IT
If you can fit more than 3 fingers in then you should see a physiotherapist as you might need a specialist assessment. If you can fit 1-2 fingers in then the Separation is more easily managed.
The best time to check for Diastasis Recti or Separation of the abdominals, is after 6 weeks postpartum. However you can work on closing this gap before then.
Avoid twisting/rotating postpartum, especially in the first 4-6 weeks. This is also important if you are still pregnant. Instead of sitting up directly, roll onto your side & then use your arms to push yourself up.
Pelvic floor exercises to strengthen your lower abdominals. Then try to draw in your lower abdominals & deep abdominals to make them work together. Avoid heavy lifting, & engage your pelvic floor & abdominals when coughing or sneezing.
The use of support garments can also be very helpful in the postpartum period. See a specialist who will fit the garments correctly so that you don’t do any more damage.
Gentle & regular exercise is very helpful in recovering after having a baby. Exercise such as yoga, Pilates, swimming, & walking, just make sure that you listen to your body.
Our bodies go through so much in pregnancy/labour & we are left with a body that does not feel connected or strong. Use this time to strengthen your body as soon as is safe otherwise you will find it harder to regain the tone you once had.
Be kind to your body & listen, if you push your body too far too early then you can cause more damage. If you are unsure whether you have Diastasis Recti then see a local physiotherapist who specialises in Women’s Health.