When the ab muscles move aside like this, the uterus, bowel, and other organs have only a thin band of connective tissue in front to hold them in place. Without the necessary muscle support, a vaginal delivery could be more difficult. The muscle opening often shrinks after giving birth, but in some studies of women with diastasis recti, the muscle wasn’t back to normal even a year later. This abdominal separation tends to persist post delivery and requires special attention and management.
Tips to help your abdominal separation:
1. Don’t strain. It can make matters worse. Constipation and lifting heavy things, including your kids, strain that connective tissue. Standing up and sitting down also count as heavy lifting in this case, because
you’re lifting your body weight.
2. Be careful with exercise. Some routine fitness moves, including crunches, sit-ups, pushups, press-ups, and front planks make abdominal separation worse. So can swimming, some yoga poses (like downward dog), and doing anything on your hands and knees.
3. Wearing compression shorts post delivery. Even if you’ve had a vaginal birth, help to tighten your abdominal muscles helping bridge the separation.
4. Have a Chiropractic Assessment. Labour and birth places stress on our pelvis and hips which can alter how we use our muscles when lifting and attending to our babies, this often makes the separation worse and/or prevents it for coming back together.
5. Get exercising. The following exercises are designed to help strengthen our pelvic floor as well as our abdominal muscles to help the gap shrink as well as tighten the muscles preventing separation occurring during our subsequent pregnancies.
Get in a quadruped position on your hands and knees and with your back horizontal to the floor. Relax and let your belly sag toward the floor, then pull your belly button in and tighten all the muscles in the midsection, straightening your back out. Hold for three seconds, relax and repeat.
Lying on your back with your knees bent. Bringing your hips up whilst contracting your glutes and pelvic floor. Holding for 60 seconds and repeating this 10 times morning and night. If you find yourself not being able to hold for the 60 seconds, start with 30 and work up to the minute.
This is a progression from the quadruped exercise. To do the plank, start lying on your stomach. Place your elbows and forearms on the floor. Lift your body so your weight is distributed between your forearms and toes. Your back should be straight, not sagging toward the floor, and draw your belly button in toward your spine. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat 12 to 15 times. Once 30 seconds is easy, increase the time by 15 seconds. You can also do these on one side of the body by turning sideways. Place your left forearm and
left foot on the ground with your right foot on top of it and lift your body so that it is straight.
Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Extend one leg straight out so it is about 12 inches above the floor. Hold it there for three seconds while drawing in the muscles of your abs tight. Bend the leg back and switch sides. Repeat 12 to 15 times per side. This exercise isolates each side of the
obliques and transverse abdominus.
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