Preventing Diastasis Recti, the dreaded belly split after pregnancy

Preventing Diastasis Recti, belly split after pregnancy

Diastasis Recti or D.R for short is a condition that can happen in up to 50% of all pregnancies.  It is where the abdominals post birth does not fully come back again towards the midline, leaving a fairly thick protrusion out from the abdominal wall.  A split that is anything more than two fingers thick post birth is defined as D.R.
The split allows the internal organs to bulge forward through the abdominals, which can be felt as a hard thick line between the abs or like a small loaf of bread. So why is D.R an issue more than just an aesthetic one? 
Unfortunately, apart from looking unusual, D.R can create a host of physical issues such as chronic back pain, incontinence, constipation and painful intercourse. 
So how do we fix diastasis recti? The best way is to develop a strong core and body before pregnancy. If you have developed a strong base before pregnancy you should continue to exercise throughout your pregnancy, however, there are many adaptations to your routine you will have to make. An experienced personal trainer best oversees this, in particular, one who has the knowledge or pre and postnatal training. Developing a strong body before pregnancy has been shown to reduce the incidence of D.R. and maintaining that throughout the pregnancy is advised but again adaptations have to be made. I’m not going to cover the adaptations to a strength routine in this post, rather just cover which core exercises you should be avoiding as you get larger. 
To reduce the chances of getting D.R and it persisting or indeed to help treat D.R please see the video I have made below with a great breathing technique to help train your abdominals to knit back together. Unfortunately, in some cases the split is too large to treat with exercise alone so surgery may be indicated, so please always check with your healthcare provider. Below are some things you should do to avoid and treat diastasis recti. 

1. Develop a strong core before the pregnancy. Consider hiring a personal trainer to help you do this. 

2. Avoid weighted forward flexion exercises as soon as you know you are pregnant. Weighted cable crunches etc. Avoid core movements that place too much stress on the anterior core compartment such as crunches sit-ups and excessive planking. Avoid movements such as burpees and chin ups until a good 10-12 months post-partum. These place too much stress again on the anterior core compartment and so can increase the chance of D.R. Even pushups should take a back seat for a while, work instead on low-stress T.V.A work and stabilisation through the waist during light-moderate weight training.

3.Work on ‘belly breathing’ and the core exercise as shown in the video below. This can be conducted preconception to help establish correct neurological control of the core. During pregnancy, it can still be practised, however keeping the draw in only to around a slight pull inwards at a slight tummy tuck inwards. Post birth this breathing technique can be worked a little deeper with a stronger contraction inwards. 

Here's the link to the breathing exercise Preventing Diastasis Recti

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samuel pont