Do you have the Mummy Tummy?

Do you have Diastasis Recti?

Rectus abdominal separation is a completely normal part of pregnancy where the connective tissue between the two sides of the rectus abdominal muscles thin and stretch to accommodate the growing uterus. Each individual is different, depending on the size & position of baby, number or babies, maternal age and shape, and nutrition. The separation will return to normal gradually in its own time, however there are many exercises both during and after pregnancy that will make this gap worse, delay the healing process and prolong the look of the “mummy tummy”.

A two-finger gap is considered normal after 8 weeks. Some women have a two-finger gap for years, while others have up to 5finger gaps that close up within 9-12months. Having Diastasis (or “mummy tummy”) will increase lower back pain and hernias and a study of women with abdominal separation found that 66% also presented with pelvic floor dysfunction (i.e. incontinence both urethra & bowel) and pelvic organ prolapse. (This is where the pelvic floor is so weak and dysfunctional that the pelvic organs sit as low as into the vagina!) Prevention during pregnancy is the best key to avoiding these conditions! If you have had more than one baby, a big baby, an assisted birth or any other pelvic or hip problems you are much more likely to develop some sort of pelvic floor dysfunction.

How to test if you have it:

o Lie on your back, knees bent with your feet and back flat on the floor

o Place your fingertips on your belly button and above and below.

o Crunch by lifting your head off floor.

o Record width- widest part, length, depth and how the connective tissue in that gap feels? (The deeper the separation and thinner the tissue the longer it can take to heal)

o Record width- widest part, length, depth and how the connective tissue in that gap feels? (The deeper the separation and thinner the tissue the longer it can take to heal)

If you are in the later stages of pregnancy, 25 weeks onwards, the easiest way to test if you have separation is to get a qualified trainer or therapist to check for you. I test all women at my Prenatal Pilates group.

Learning how to properly engage your deep abdominal (core) muscles and your pelvic floor will help reduce Diastases during pregnancy. Post pregnancy activating these muscles will encourage the rectus to close. Exercises that can be begun immediately after birth to help with the healing process are gentle pelvic floor and transverse abdominus activation. It took me at least one year of Pilates (post baby) 1-2 x per week to notice a close in my separation and it prevented my back pain from around 3 weeks of regular classes. Just like developing a baby in your womb, the healing process takes time.

Unsuitable exercise both during pregnancy and post pregnancy include:

o Push ups or Presses

o Front Planks

o Superman’s

o Lat Pull Down

o Shoulder Press

o Crunches

o Pilates 100’s

These exercises will increase pressure on the Intra Abdominal wall, contributing to increased separation and delayed healing, back pain and pelvic floor problems.

If you have less than a 2finger gap, ask yourself- Do I leak? Do I have back pain? Does my stomach feel flat? Do I have good posture and good core activation? If you answered no to leaking, back pain, and yes to a flat stomach, good posture and good core activation, you will most likely be safe to do the above exercises and continue on your path to more intense forms of exercise, especially abdominal work. However, it is always worthwhile consulting a Physiotherapist who specialises in women’s health first, at some time soon after birth.

I hope you have found this helpful. If you would like more information regarding activating your TA or Pelvic Floor or are interested in classes either pre or post natally, please visit me at either:

Instagram: @realfitnessformums


xx ali



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