Are you a new mum or a mum to be and have found yourself asking:
What is that gap between my stomach? Why are my abs separated? Will my tummy return to normal?
That tummy muscle separation you are experiencing is commonly known as Abdominal Separation or Diastasis Recti (also known as DRAM).
Being rewarded with your little one after a long pregnancy is enough to put a smile on your face forever. You may be looking down at your brand new bubs, over the moon, relieved your pregnancy is over (for some, while others are missing pregnancy life), only to realise you have a large gap in between your stomach.
The last thing you may want to add to your plate is a new addition to your mummy tummy and Mama, you’re not alone!
Don’t despair ladies, having separated abs after pregnancy is actually very common. All of us pregnant women, yes all, 100% of us have been shown to suffer from abdominal separation in the 3rd trimester of pregnancy although you may not realise it at the time.
Here’s how to recognise, treat and prevent abdominal separation:
What exactly is Diastastic Recti or Abdominal Separation?
This gap can be found in the middle of your abdominal muscles, a straight line down the center, from the bottom of your chest to your pelvis. These muscles are connected by connective tissue. Forces such as growth from your pregnancy can cause this connective tissue to stretch and become lax which causes the muscles to separate. When this happens, the abdominal wall is weakened which means it becomes harder to “hold’ everything in. Here are step by step instructions on how to check for Diastasis.
What it can look like is a strange cone or bulge when trying to contract your tummy muscles or a feeling like you just can’t get rid of your pregnancy belly months after having the baby.
Who is at risk?
There are those that can be at a higher risk of deeper abdominal separation. Some of these include:
- – Women who have had multiple births
- – Petite women or those with low muscle tone
- – Those with too much muscle tone can also be considered high risk for developing diastasis recti (body builders can get DRAM too!)
What can be done to prevent Abdominal Separation?
First prize is prevention.
There are things you can do to help prevent developing or exacerbating your ab separation:
– Make sure you are doing helpful exercises
– Use the correct posture and form while exercising
– If you have been doing weight training and continue whilst pregnant it is important that you use the correct breathing strategies to avoid exerting pressure on the abdominal wall.
While you can work toward preventing abdominal separation, the truth is you may still end up experiencing it as every woman’s body handles pregnancy differently.
What can I do about my abdominal muscle separation?
Second prize is treatment. There is help out there.
It is important to understand that your abdominal separation can continue to get worse if left untreated; it may contribute to back or pelvic pain, hernias, breathing difficulties, incontinence or prolapse.
In the treatment for abdominal separation we focus on breath work, back and pelvic mobility and restoring strength and function to the connective tissue between the muscles.
- Work with your
- to create a personalised exercise plan suited to your needs.
In the meantime, be sure to take it easy, avoid lifting items heavier than your baby, and try to roll onto your side when getting up out of bed. You want to use the least amount of strain on your abdominal muscles as possible whilst learning how to use them again.
At Coast Sport, Leigh-Anne, our Women’s Health expert in Exercise Physiology can help walk you through this and get you back to feeling yourself in no time.
Treatment will usually include pelvic floor and deep stomach muscle exercises followed by a personalised care plan to get you back on track.
If you are a Central Coast local and concerned you may be experiencing abdominal separation or would like to work toward preventing abdominal separation (if you plan on getting pregnant or are in early stages of pregnancy), then contact us today.