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Diastasis Recti & Postnatal Exercise

Updated: Sep 20, 2021

What is Diastasis Recti and why is it important?

pregnant woman in her underwear strokes her bump

Our bodies are incredible and do amazing things during pregnancy and birth, including stretching and expanding to accommodate your growing baby. Due to this expansion, it is common in pregnancy for the Abdominis Rectus muscles to separate. These are the muscles that form your abdominal wall and that usually meet in the centre of the abdomen.

Normally, a few weeks after giving birth, these muscles will have knitted themselves back together. However, occasionally there may still be a significant gap between the muscles.

illustrations of different types of ab seperation

(examples of various Diastasis Recti)

How will Diastasis Recti affect me?

It is important that you find out if you have an abdominal separation, particularly if you are planning on starting some form of postnatal exercise. The abdominal muscles are vital for our core strength and are load bearing muscles. If there is a significant gap (this is considered to be a gap of about 2cm or more) between these muscles than they won't be working effectively and your core will be weakened. This means that you put extra pressure on other areas of your body, in particular your lower back, causing pain and restricted movement. A Diastasis Recti can make simple tasks, such as picking your baby up painful and difficult.

How do I know if I have Diastasis Recti?

Sometimes it's possible to see a Diastasis Recti, either by seeing a gap running down the centre of the abdomen or noticing your belly forming a cone shape when you move in a certain way, such as leaning forward.

You can also check yourself for Diastasis Recti (the video below shows you how) or have a specialist such as a doctor or physio check you over.

It is really important before you start any kind of postnatal exercise (even gentle exercise such as yoga) that you have checked for Diastasis Recti. If you do have an abdominal gap, the exercises you do will need to be modified as certain exercise, such as planks and crunches can make the gap worse.

You should always join a class with a qualified postnatal exercise specialist to make sure that your exercise is safe and suitable for your postpartum body.

Written by Naomi Ponting.

Certified Pre and Postnatal Yoga Teacher

For Tranquil Breaths Milton Keynes - Hypnobirthing and Yoga.

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