Let me start by saying abdominal separation is normal and without it your gorgeous baby would not have had the growing room they needed!

During pregnancy the linea alba (connective tissue between your rectus abdominus muscles) becomes stretched and weaker due to your expanding baby and hormonal changes. This can result in a weaker core and pelvic floor.

It is always important to exercise with care whilst pregnant and after to make sure we don’t make the gap bigger by putting unnecessary pressure into the abdominal space. Ie think loads of sit ups are going to do you any good, they wont!

 The gap can occur anywhere from the bottom of your sternum to the top of the pubic bone. We measure the gap in fingers, and it is very easy to check yourself, although ideally a medical professional will check too.

How to check for abdominal separation post birth:

  1. Lay on your back in a relaxed position, knees, feet and hips, hip width one hand behind your head
  2. Place three fingers in the centre of your abdominals just above your belly button
  3. Press firmly down and feel the muscles
  4. Gently lift your head and continue to press down, feel for how the muscles react, can you feel tension under your fingers?
  5. Relax your head back down and straighten one leg, again push firmly down on your abdomen, do you feel a change in tension?
  6. This time as you lift your head engage your pelvic floor muscles, if it feels like there is tone and tension under your fingers, this is good this shows your muscle is functional however large the ‘gap’ may be.
  7. If it feels like you are pressing down into your favourite sponge cake, and you can’t find any tension then you have a slightly larger and more problematic ‘gap’ and I would recommend seeing a women’s health physio who can help you with finding that tension. Pilates is a great place to start but it is worth getting expert advice as 66% of women with Diastasis Recti (abdominal separation) also have pelvic floor dysfunction. (Research from 2011 Lee, Hodges, Wiebe) so it is worth getting that extra support.

I hope you found this blog post useful! If you have just had or are about to have a baby come and join my mum and baby Pilates classes taking place in Emsworth and Bedhampton.

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