New moms are often disheartened when they are trying to lose the baby weight gained during pregnancy, but that ‘baby pouch’ just won’t budge no matter what they do. If you’re struggling with this condition, then this is for you. Don’t be demotivated- there is a solution!
Diastasis recti, more commonly known as abdominal separation, is a condition often caused in women after giving birth. It is a gap of roughly 2.7 cm or greater between the two sides of the rectus abdominis muscle (abs).
This gap between the two sides of the rectus abdomins is actually only connective tissue that has been pulled apart during pregnancy. The connective tissue in your core is stretched out as your belly makes room for your baby to grow.
Although this condition is not harmful or dangerous in itself, having a weak core due to the separation can lead to back injuries and hip instability. Your core strength is a vital part of remaining mobile and strong, so you’ll need to work on strengthening your core and abdominal muscles again for the connective tissue to heal.
Luckily, there are some things you can do during pregnancy to avoid (or lessen) the abdominal separation, as well as some exercises you can perform to repair the connective tissue after giving birth. However, it is vital that you get your doctor’s clearance post pregnancy before you start exercising.
Here are some of my top tips to avoid abdominal separation during pregnancy:
- Posture is vital. Although it may be easy to let it all ‘hang out’ and relax into your shoulders, you have to focus on keeping your posture as upright as possible through these months.
- Sitting down is another way you can let that pregnant belly relax too much, try either sitting at the edge of a chair if it doesn’t have a straight back or on the floor with both knees facing in the same direction.
- Always get up from a lying position by rolling onto and getting up from your side. In other words, lay to one side and use your top arm to push yourself up while engaging your core.
- Avoid jumping once you are in the second trimester as this places unnecessary pressure on your rectus abdominis, affecting the connective tissue further.
- Avoid push-ups, planks and sit-ups. There are modifications for these – these forward or core pressure exercises can place a strain on that gap.
Here are some core exercises to perform after childbirth to rectify abdominal separation. Be sure to engage your core with every move:
- Belly vacuums/ core bracing
- Heel Taps
- Leg drops (knees bent)
- Leg slides
And don’t forget to perform Kegels: they play a role in reactivating your core even more!
Abdominal separation is a common ‘by-product‘ of being pregnant, but the good news is it can be reversed with some exercise post pregnancy.
Workout by Isilda da Costa. Isilda is a personal trainer, health coach, certified nutritionist and women’s fitness specialist.