Once you’re a new mom, everything changes. You have a new routine, new responsibilities and soon after, new ab concerns.
During pregnancy, your abs stretch to make room for your growing baby. This is what the muscles were designed to do. However, when the abdominal muscles separate and do not close after pregnancy, this is called Diastasis Recti. At the extreme, it can even lead to abdominal pain and pelvic floor problems.
Since this condition most commonly occurs as a result of pregnancy, it’s often lovingly referred to as “mommy tummy”.
If you have been losing your baby weight, but your pooch isn’t flattening, you may have diastasis recti.
How to Check If You Have Diastasis Recti:
It’s easy to perform a self-test at home, but remember diastasis recti is a medical condition and should be diagnosed by a doctor.
Here are the basic steps:
1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
2. Put one hand on your belly, with your fingers midline on your naval.
3. Slowly raise your head off the floor (as if you were doing a crunch) while pressing your fingers down gently.
If you feel a gap, that is the diastasis. It’s always best to consult your doctor to guide you in healing this condition, especially if you’ve got a severe case. However, below I’ve outlined some basic pointers.
Source for photo above.
Exercises for Diastasis Recti Repair:
To repair your core after pregnancy, forget every traditional ab exercise you know, such as crunches and planks. These exercises work the outer ab muscles and can actually make the separation worse.
Focus on your deep core. To do this, you’ll need to work the inner corset ab muscle, the transverse abdominus (TVA). The TVA is the main muscle you want to target because when correctly engaged, it lengthens and cinches the waist, pulling the two sides of the abs closer together.
If you’ve been reading this blog long enough, you know I’m a huge fan of working the transversus abdominus for a smaller waist. The same goes for repairing diastasis recti.
Exercise 1: Pelvic Floor Activation
To activate the pelvic floor, act is if you are stopping the flow of urine or zipping up a pair of jeans. Hold for 10 seconds and release. Repeat 10x.
Exercise 2: TVA Breathing
Lie down on a mat or a flat surface with your knees bent. Place one hand over your stomach. Take a deep breath in using your diaphragm*. As you exhale, gently draw your belly button toward your spine and SQUEEZE, for at least 10 seconds. Let go, allowing the breath to rush back in. Repeat for 3 sets of 10.
*You’ll know you’re using your diaphragm because your stomach will expand, not your chest!