New moms are usually overwhelmed with new experiences and duties after their babies are born. The amount of information about things they need to do now is so huge that it often leaves little to no time for self-care. At the same time, this is a vital issue, because the merrier a mother is, the better her child feels. One of the main objectives women usually go with is weight loss and getting back to their body’s functionality, which requires regular exercising. However, certain postpartum health conditions need a special approach.
Image Credit: 123RF.com / nuotr
Diastasis recti, or abdominal separation, is a health issue many women develop during pregnancy or after giving birth. It occurs when rectus abdominus muscle, the one covering our bellies’ front surface, gets separated between its left and right side. It happens due to growing tension on the abdominal wall of a pregnant woman, which, in turn, increases the risk of developing the condition if there are many fetuses or many pregnancies the woman has had before. Newborns get it quite often, with prematurely-born ones or African American babies being at the highest risk, but diastasis recti normally disappears itself, with only the most complicated cases requiring surgery. Pregnant women and women who have already given birth normally need no treatment. But how does one exercise with such a condition in place?
- Don’t resume your previous training routine if you’ve had one. Many regular exercises, such as sit-ups, push-ups, press-ups, front planks, crunches etc. may actually make it worse. Diastasis recti requires a specific approach depending on a woman’s medical history and severity of the condition;
- Before choosing exercises, consult a doctor, not a trainer. Even professional trainers may be unaware of such a condition and challenges it poses, and one risks ending up with a training program that doesn’t take into account their current physical limitations and can lead to a number of undesirable health consequences. Moreover, as every individual is unique, situations and allowed exercise complex may significantly vary for different women having diastasis recti;
- Aim for exercises that strengthen your belly core. During recovery from diastasis recti efforts should be concentrated on careful and determined care about the rectus abdominus muscle, the one that got separated.
What exact exercises can one start with? Doctors recommend these ones:
- Belly breathing. One lies on their back on a mat with knees bent and feet flat, arms straightened and raised over their shoulders. Then one exhales deeply, simultaneously putting one leg out in front of them and the extending the opposite arm back above their head. After that, one inhales while returning to the start position and repeats everything again with the opposite side.
- Drawing-in one’s Abdomen. When impact on one’s belly muscles occurs (for instance, lifting one’s baby, getting up etc.), pull it in to feel the tense, like we often do in a fitting room. Hold the abdomen muscles tense and keep breathing as you normally do for 10 seconds, then let go.
- Quadrupled Abdominal. This one is basically deep breathing in and out while standing on all fours. Keep your hands under your shoulders and knees under hips respectively. Exhale and inhale slowly and deeply, letting yourself feel your muscles tense up and relax in the process.
Still, before proceeding to any of these do not forget to ensure their safety in your particular case with your physician. Treating one’s body and its needs attentively and responsibly is the way that would help to ensure quick and successful recovery from the condition.
Pregnancy week by week – Mayoclinic.org
Abdominal Separation (Diastasis Recti) – Webmd.com
What is Diastasis Recti? – Mutusystem.com