Your abdominal muscles act as a natural corset and the fibres pass in different directions to give total support. The main muscles include rectus abdominis, external obliques, internal obliques and transversus abdominis. The function of the abdominal muscles are extensive and include the following:
• Act as a protective splint for lumbar spine
• Maintain the correct pelvic tilt
• Produce controlled movements
• Support abdominal viscera
• Aid in expulsive movements (coughing, vomiting)
• Support pregnant uterus
In pregnancy the abdominal muscles adapt as your baby grows, the linea alba (line of fibrous tissue running down the centre of your abdominals) stretches and separates causing what is known as Diastasis Recti. Generally a separation of around 2.5cm or more is considered to be diastasis recti.
Diastasis recti affects many women in their pregnancy as it's the body's natural way of adapting to hold the baby. It is worth waiting until at least 6 weeks post birth before assessing the muscle separation. As the uterus shrinks (greatly assisted by breastfeeding) the stomach muscles will become closer together again and may start knitting back together naturally. It can take a while, but but the body is good at responding to adaptations.
After a month or two, if there is still separation there are some abdominal exercises that can be completed which I will outline in my next post.
The following video shows you how to check for diastasis recti at home. If at all possible a women's health physio or postnatal personal trainer should check for you - but this can be a good indication.
Please excuse my little helper in the video :-)
Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions you may have!