Did you know that during pregnancy your abdominal muscles can stretch by up to 50%!
It's not surprising then that most pregnant women experience separation of the superficial abdominal muscles known as diastasis recti in the second or third trimester. The muscle affected is the rectus abdominis otherwise known as your 'six-pack' muscle which runs vertically down your stomach. In between the two halves of the rectus is connective tissue called the linea alba which forms the midline of your stomach. During pregnancy this connective tissue softens and stretches as you grow.
Some degree of separation occurs in all pregnancies and a one to two finger gap is usually not problematic however significant diastasis recti can cause problems such as low back or pelvis pain and increase your risk of prolapse or hernia.
During pregnancy getting an assessment and advice on how to identify signs of abdominal separation and modify your exercise as well as starting some simple exercise that focus on the deeper layer of abdominal muscles can help to prevent and lessen the effects of the separation.
Post-natal an assessment for the degree of any separation is recommended then prescribed specific abdominal rehabilitation exercises. there is no 'one size fits all' program that works for everyone so it is really important to get individualized advice and exercise prescription.
During pregnancy at around 20-25 weeks is when most people start to show more of a bump and when general exercise habits may need to be modified.
Post-natal an assessment at 6 weeks is recommended and often wearing an abdominal support such as a tubigrip or the SRC recovery shorts/tights (available in our online store) from as soon as comfortable post birth is the best way to minimize separation while your muscles recover.