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Okay so this term sounds scary I know, but what it really means is abdominal separation. It’s super common in pregnancy’s, especially if you’ve had multiples or an especially big baby for your weight and height (like me!). If we’re talking slang here, it’s commonly referred to as the mommy pooch. Ring a bell? And now you’re probably staring at your belly thinking, “I thought it was just those extra donuts I indulged in.” Well it might be a little bit of that, but the culprit can usually be classified as diastasis recti. And YES, there are ways to heal this!
So it’s no secret that pregnancy puts a ton of pressure on your belly, and it would be physically impossible for your abdomen to keep it’s original shape. I mean I don’t care if you’re Superwoman…it just doesn’t work that way. So first let’s embrace the big belly and love it, and then decide what to do with the aftermath postpartum.
There are things that can worsen this abdominal separation. Have you been doing crunches non stop and haven’t seen any results. STOP RIGHT NOW. Any traditional strenuous abdominal exercises in the midst of diastasis recti can actually worsen the condition. It takes time to heal this kind of separation, and you need to deal with the fact that you won’t have your six pack back in 4 months postpartum. So don’t do: crunches, planks, push-ups, sit-ups, etc. Any of those traditional ab workouts need to take a hiatus. And now you’re probably thinking “There’s got to be some way to speed up this process.” And you’re right! There are some healing exercises that help to heal your abdominal wall and close the separation between the muscles.
First though, let’s check and see if you have this condition. Lay down flat on your back on the floor with your knees bent. Then, only lift your head and neck off of the floor while feeling down the center of your stomach. You’re trying to feel for a type of “trench” feeling between the muscles; and trust me, you’ll know. If you can fit about two fingers in this gap, then you have a mild case of the condition (like me). Fitting for or more fingers there is a severe case; either way, you should not be doing traditional abdominal exercises. So let’s talk about healing movements:
1.) One of my personal favorites (because you can do it anywhere) is simply sucking your belly button inward, kind of like you’re trying to suck in to put on your skinny jeans. I do it as many times as I can until I lose track or get distracted.
2.) Remember doing the test for diastasis recti when you lifted you head off of the ground? Well that’s another exercise you can do as well. Again, repeat it as many times as you can.
3.) An upright push-up is always an easy option as well. Just stand in front of wall, placing your hands shoulder width like you would do a push-up on the ground. Then push and pull yourself to and from the wall. These exercises should not exhaust you by any means, so do as many as you can.
4.) The last movement I like to do is the butterfly fall. Lay on your back with your knees bent. Slowly let one knee fall to the outside and then pull it back upright. Repeat on both sides as many times as you can!
So these are my go-to workouts for this condition, and I’ve seen a world of difference. As with any type of exercising though, consistency is key! You have to keep doing these everyday if you want to see any true results. And as soon as the separation is healed, you can go back to your amazingly “fun” abdominal exercises that you’ve missed so much. But don’t push yourself too soon! Be kind to your body; it has done so much for you throughout your pregnancy and will continue to do so. So be nice to yourself, you’re beautiful in every way imaginable, whether you have a rock hard six pack, or you’re rocking the mom pooch while you heal up.
||| Note: I've heard of and seen the results of people also using these abdominal binders after birth. Check out this one.
Mommy, wife, daughter, sister, friend, eclectic hippy, old soul.