Most women don’t even know what this condition is.
Those who know may not even understand fully what it entails. Yes not even the trainers.
Diastasis recti abdominis is simply a phenomenon where your abdominal muscles separate due to certain pressures. In our cases, when we are pregnant, our tummy has to relax and give way to the growth of baby. It’s a very natural phenomenon and has to happen to allow for a smooth pregnancy. Imagine what will happen if your abdominals refuse to give way and baby has no space to grow into!
The issue comes after pregnancy. Can our tummies heal the separation naturally?
By all accounts, we should be able to heal the gap naturally after some time. In fact, if given sufficient time, the abdominal separation should heal. At least most women should. Some women can’t. Our bodies are all different and each has different threshold and capabilities.
It is interesting to learn from the limited researches on this topic.
Coldron et al (2008) measured the gap from 1day to 1year post-partum and noted that the distance decreased markedly from Day 1 to 8 weeks, and that without any intervention (e.g. exercise training or other physiotherapy) there was no further closure at the end of the first year.
What does that mean for us?
What it essentially means for you, who has just been through a pregnancy journey and delivered an angel, is to understand what your body has gone through, is going through now, and do what you can to support it’s healing process.
What it also means for you, is to engage in activities that will help support your body’s natural healing process.
And not go against it.
So here’s a very simple overview of what’s going on with your body and what you should and should not do, to help your body heal faster.
- As your belly grows bigger, the soft tissue that runs down your mid section (the linea alba) relaxes and gives way. This allows your abdominal walls to stretch and expand, giving space for your growing baby.
- The linea alba is not just a soft tissue. It has many intertwining soft tissues that cross it, connecting your muscle walls on the left and on the right. It makes up your core and contributes to your core strength, ability to handle loads, and move efficiently. It’s not just a ‘tissue”. It’s a bit of a highway junction.
- After you deliver, your belly does not just disappear and pop back in. Because the soft tissues and muscles had taken 40 weeks to grow into that ‘perfect mould’ to provide a conducive environment for baby.
- By all means, all your soft tissues and muscular structures should have the capability to ‘deflate the mould’, and fall back to where you originally started. But this is the perfect scenario and not all of us have the privilege to experience the perfect scenario.
- How well your soft tissues heal and go back to it’s pre pregnancy state depends on many factors:
- Health of your tissues in general. Are you well, nourished, hydrated and mobile? If your tissues are not at optimal health, they just don’t heal as efficiently.
- Movement patterns. Are you moving adequately and maintaining a healthy posture? If you are constantly performing inadequate exercises and adding unnecessary forces and impacts on your body, your tissues may deteriorate in strength.
- Are you aware of your posture when sitting, standing, breastfeeding, driving, reading etc…. If you are constantly in suboptimal postures, you may discourage optimal healing.
Well, can we do anything about diastasis at all?
The best thing we can do is learn and be aware about what is going on with our bodies and take control of our own health and well-being.
Just by understanding and taking the initiative to know what’s going on is a big step already. Regardless of how your public health system supports your health and well-being post pregnancy, you are empowered to do what is essential for yourself.
In Body Confidence After Baby, we take 6 modules to walk you through a safe healing journey after your pregnancy. Yes we do not take postnatal recovery lightly. We do spend time and effort to make sure you understand and can apply the techniques taught realistically.
But here, I’m going to show you the most fundamental technique you have to get started doing first, to get your core connected and engaged. It’s what I get all my postnatal mummies to start getting well acquainted with.
You can also take a look at this great educational video, thanks to Mummy Ophelia, who graciously agreed to sharing her progress. See the stark difference when you engage your core via proper breathing, and when you don’t.
Breathing is integral to everything that is going on inside.
 Coldron, Y., Stokes, M.J., Newham, D.J., et al., 2008. Postpartum characteristics of rectus abdominis on ultrasound imaging. Man. Ther. 13, 112.