Diastasis Recti aka Healing the”Mommy Pooch”

I have mentioned many times on my instagram that I had diastasis Recti with the twins. I worked pretty hard and improved it after the twins but it came back very quickly for baby number three. I wasn’t very surprised because of an article I read on Parents.com -Postpartum Body which said  “Women may be more likely to develop Diastasis Recti if they are petite, carry multiple babies at a time, have had more than one pregnancy, carry their babies later in life, have poor muscle tone, or have a sway back posture. Your medical history could play a factor as well. Women who had diastasis recti from a previous pregnancy will most likely develop the condition again. Women with a history of umbilical or ventral hernia, and pelvic instability, are at greater risk for developing it.”

During pregnancy 66% of women develop Diastasis Recti. For many women the gap closes on its own from 2-8 weeks but for others it is more extreme and sticks around to haunt us!

I graduated with a degree in PuBlic Health and have my certifications for Group Fitness and and Personal Training AND a prenatal certification. Even with this back ground my knowledge on DR was none existent before I had the twins. As I struggle with lack of information about the issue I thought is was time to do a complete blog post(Which I will continually add to ) about what Diastasis is, how to treat it post natal, and how to try to lessen the chances while pregnant. I did not know about Diastasis while pregnant with the twins and I know I would have done some things differently.While pregnant I did almost all lifts on my hands and knees and lots of planks. After the twins I went straight back into planks, mountain climbers,crunches and ab work to get “my body” back and it actually created much more work for me in the long run . So hopefully this helps you!

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WHAT IS DIATISIS RECTI

Basically it is a gap in between your right and left large abdominal wall muscles that can result in a rounded, protruding belly “pooch.” The space between the muscles is what makes the pooch.  In extreme cases it could call for surgery BUT alot can be fixed with correct exercise and breathing.

Pomppovatsa_Pilates_Studio_Hyvaolo (2)HOW DO YOU TEST FOR IT:

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent, and the soles of your feet on the floor.
  2. Place one hand behind your head, and the other hand on your abdomen, with your fingertips across your midline-parallel with your waistline- at the level of your belly button.

3. If you are pregnant when you do this your stomach will peak and form a ridge up the center.  Your belly button is                                                                                         also more likley to poke out.

While pregnant testing can be  little more complicated. Mine is clear with the bulge down the center when I lay on my back and lift my head as the above instructions explain (see pictures below). I have been told by two womens therapist that I over recruit with oblique muscles which makes the bulge bigger because the obliques are strong and over take the work which isn’t good. So I am I working on Transverse Abdominal breathing. For some a sign is a protruding belly button or you can just feel for thinning connective tissue down the center of your core. Its much harder to tell while pregnant because of the extra fluid and baby being in the way but be aware of your stomach on bulging is a good sign of it.

         With My Head Down                  With my Head Lifted 

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  IMG_3962

WAYS TO AVOID RECTI WHILE PREGNANT AND HEAL POST BABY

Choose Exercise Moves Wisley:

Some routine fitness moves, including crunches, rollups, bicycle abs, sit-ups, pushups,  front planks, mountain climbers all can make abdominal separation worse. Also use moves sparingly or avoid anything on your hands and knees.

Lifting heavy weight in any “pull down”  movement (lat pull downs unsupported or tricep pulls down , etc) Keep an eye on the shape of your stomach and your breathing during these moves. Do not hold your breath and don’t let your stomach bulge in the middle! Same with pushing exercises. Do not hold your breathe Exhale on the push portion. Make sure you are engaging your transverse abdominals (Videos on contracting your TA muscles are below)

Basically anything that cause your stomach to bulge in the middle

Day to Day Movements:

Use the log roll maneuver when getting out of bed or up from the couch or floor. If you sit straight up you are basically doing a crunch which irritate it. Roll to the side and get up at an angle.

Improve your posture: Focus on standing straight up. Its natural to push your hips forward while pregnant but concentrate on good posture with your spine and hips aligned. Avoid sticking your butt out to let your stomach hang forward.

EXERCISES TO IMPROVE RECTI POST BABY

Breathing Techniques

Thee are simple techniques that reall help improve the interval muscles and tighten the pelic floor. They will help pull the abs back together and strength your ability to hold in your when you pee which is a common side effect. They aren’t the same as normal ab exercises because they are strengthening the inner unit. This feels you will not be sweating or feelings like your doing a workout but YOU are working the inner core! I am still pregnant so i decided to share a few other post pregnancy breathing techniqies that helped me with the twins

Tummy Vaccum Breathing: (Inhale air and PROPLEY exhale it all while pulling your core in) You can do this laying down, seated or standing. I would Practice these while getting putting on makeup, making dinner etc

1.Place one hand on your lower stomach/ pelvis bone area

2.Take a big inhale in filling up your stomach. this breath should not make your chest rise. Slowly release the breath while making an “S” sound.

3. As you release the breath pull your stomach in towards your spine.Hold for 3- 5 seconds(increasing the time you can hold for. Relax and repeat 10 times. You are not holding your breath you are holding the tummy pulled in.

Good & and PosturePosture: This is huge in prevention and recovery. While standing concentrate on activing your core. Pull your belly in towards your spine and stand straight. (Its not a sucking in motion its more of a engagment aka dont stick your butt out 🙂 Creating the Anterior tilt cause lower back pain and DM

ant-pelvic-tilt

EXERCISES TO DO:

Ball wall squats & Squat Squeezes- Strengthen the inner core, pelvic floor muscles and even legs

Diastsis Excersies (1)

Seated Core Contractions and short Squeezes: Helps create proper breathing, strengthen transverse abdominals and creates body awareness

Diastsis Excersies

Pelvic Tilts: against a wall or on the floor. Improves pelvic floor function, and inner core strength.

Laying down Pelvic Tilts

Side planks-Keeps your left and right abdominals together while still engaging the obliques still. The variations are endless-Leg raise, front taps front and back, side plank on elbow, triangle knee etc (Great for Pre and post baby Mommas!) Hold a basic side plank for 20-30 seconds increasing the time as you get stronger. Repeat 3-4 times on each side. If you complete a variation repeat for  set amount of reps based on your abilities.IMG_3838

Reverse Planks– Keeps your left and right abdominals together while still engaging the muscle. Hold the reverse plank for 20-30 seconds than rest and repeat 3-4 times -Add leg lifts if advanced

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Exercises to Avoid: 

Picture from Pregnancyexercises.co.nz

* crunches, roll ups, “Floating head”

*Frontal planks

*push-ups

*Twisting motion movement

*Leg lifts, V-ups, Single leg walks

*Any exercise that makes your stomach hang below without control or bulge. You are adding pressure on the gap already between your abs and worsening it

TONS more Tummy Safe Exercises here : Recti Exercises

As I recovered I would only hold a plank for as long as I could pull my stomach in towards my spine engaging my core) once I lost control of my core it was time to end the plank wether I was tired or not. I did not do crunches until the gap was gone.

LAST RESORT after exercises on your own or contacting a Womens wellness therapist in your areas. I have been to one ad it makes Huge difference!! They also can help you improve bladder control. Can we get 3 cheers for that! If severe enough Diastasis may be corrected through surgery(generally done as a tummy tuck with excess skin removal) but an medical procedure should be looked t as a last resort.

ADDITONAL AND AWESOME RESOURCES:

 Lorriane Run the top post pre and post natal exercise program in New Zealand. Here are some great breathing exercises from her as well:

http://www.pregnancyexercise.co.nz/?s=recti+diastsis

How to contract the Transverse abdominals while pregnant

Be Fit Mom gives a few great ideas for breathing as well and tons of additional info.

http://www.befitmom.com/diastasis-recti.ph