You’ve had your baby but your stomach still looks like you’re pregnant. It takes time to get back to your post pregnant body but a postpartum abdominal condition called diastasis recti might be to blame.
Diastasis recti what? Hard to spell and pronounce, this condition occurs in about two thirds of pregnant women. Diastasis recti is a inch a gap in between your right and left abdominal wall muscles that can result in a rounded, protruding belly “pooch.
During pregnancy the connective tissue called the linea alba thins out in response to a change in hormone levels in order to accommodate the enlarging uterus.
Once baby has been born, hormone levels return to their per-pregnancy levels and the thinning generally improves. In some cases, the connective tissues looses their elasticity and there ability to retract back into position. This results in diastatsis recti – kind of like an overstretch rubber band that doesn’t snap back into place.
Diastasis Recti Self-Test
To perform a self -test:
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
- Place on hand on your belly with your fingers mid-line at your navel.
- Press your fingertips gently down and bring your head up into a mini crunch position.
- Start to feel the sides of your rectus abdomens muscles and see how far apart they are.
- Separation is commonly discussed in finger widths – two, three or more fingers separation.
Exercises to help include pelvic tilts, heel slides, single leg stretches and bridge pose. You’ll want to avoid anything that puts strain on the mid-line or causes the belly to bulge outwards. Avoid sit ups, crunches and planks.
We recommend that if you do have diastatsic recti to work with your healthcare professional including a pelvic physiotherapist and to always inform your yoga/Pilates teacher before taking a class so they can modify any exercises for you.