During pregnancy the right and left halves of the rectus abdominis muscles separate to accommodate your growing baby. Postpartum this gap can take anywhere from 6 weeks to 9 months to reduce. Everyone’s recovery is going to be different and a third of all new mums will have some level of diastasis recti. After 6 weeks and when commencing exercise we need to check this gap and be ever mindful of how we work our abdominal muscles.
In VERY rare cases a hernia or prolapse can occur – most likely an umbilical hernia causing a bulge / protrusion or soft swelling around the belly button. This can be caused by increased abdominal pressure as a result of day to day things like lifting, coughing, constipation, bad posture or possibly multiple pregnancies. But it can also be caused by exercising incorrectly and working too powerfully into the abdominal muscles before we have closed the gap. For example doing full planks, full crunches, sit ups, roll ups, excessive and fast twist movements or strong back bends – these are an absolute NO NO until you have full abdominal recovery.
How do you know if you have Diastasis Recti?
It’s possible to check your own abdominal gap – I show you how in the below video. From 6 to 8 weeks it is normal to have a gap of about 20mm which is approximately 2 fingers. Anything more than that after 8 weeks is considered problematic and you should seek further medical advice.
If you have any kind of gap do take advice on how to modify common exercises to work safely until you have managed to close the gap. Busylizzy classes are a great place to find this advice, and also to ensure you are being given exercises that are tailored to your stage of recovery.
See my video for two really simple exercises to help aid recovery, as well as some modified variations of common core exercises that are safe to do even with DR.
Magda originally qualified with degrees in drama and dance and a postgraduate degree in dramatherapy, going on to work with adults with learning disabilities in London, leading drama and movement classes and therapy sessions. When she was made redundant she decided to retrain as a fitness professional, qualifying in Pilates, Aerobics and Zumba. She has been teaching Pilates ever since, specialising in postnatal classes. In addition to her postnatal work, she also has a specialist interest in supporting people with back issues, reflecting a strong belief in the power of Pilates to promote better back health.