There are many wonderful things about starting a new year and beginning your journey to motherhood. Who doesn’t enjoy a good baby shower? We hear about the strange food cravings, and the mood swings during pregnancy but we usually don’t hear about ‘diastasis recti’ or ‘ab separation’.
Now, before you anxiously Google these terms, understand that diastasis recti is normal. In fact, most pregnant women and new moms will experience ab separation. That’s the first thing you should know!
What happens during ab separation?
During your pregnancy, more space is needed as your baby grows. We all have our 6-pack muscles – the rectus abdominis, which attach to your pubic bone and run up to the base of your ribcage. They are connected together in the centre by the linea alba. As your abdominal wall start to stretch, this midline connective tissue starts thinning and widening to accommodate for the growth. The process is natural and for some new mamas, the linea alba becomes strong again by itself after birth. For some mamas, though, you’ll need a little help to close the gap.
Are there side effects of diastasis recti?
Ab separation can decrease your core strength, which will make your back muscles work harder and increase the pressure on your pelvic floor muscles. If the separation does not close after birth, it might contribute to constant lower back pain and pelvic floor dysfunction.
What can I do to prevent ab separation?
Most women will have a certain degree of ab separation during pregnancy, but, there are things you can do to reduce the risk of having a significant ab separation and to help close the gap after birth. Remember, the bigger the gap, the harder it will be to close after birth. You can start strengthening your transversus abdominus during pregnancy, also working on your pelvic floor so that your core muscles are in good shape.
Coming in after your first trimester to speak with your pelvic physiotherapist is a great way to learn how to up your core strength. At 32 weeks, we can see if there is a gap and work together to keep the separation from getting worse. Keep in mind, ab separation is totally normal and not something to be afraid of.
During my pregnancy, how can I prevent the separation from getting worse?
Working with your pelvic physiotherapist, you can get customized help that target what your body really needs. In general, you might want to try to reduce the outward pressure onto your belly button during daily activities. For example, turning to the side to getting up and out of bed, engaging your transversus abdominis when bending down to pick things up. Safe and regular exercises during pregnancy can also help. Sometimes you can benefit from getting a belly support band for more support at the area.
If you’re pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant, it’s always a good idea to meet with your pelvic physiotherapist. While things like ‘diastasis recti’ may sound scary and unfamiliar, it’s a natural part of your journey to motherhood. We’re here to help. Make your appointment today. Have questions about ab separation during pregnancy? Let us know in the comments!