New Moms: Is it just belly fat or Abdominal Wall Separation (Diastasis Recti)

March 29, 2019Ritu SinghHealth Tips Post-partum

Are you someone who is struggling to get rid of that belly fat even after years of giving birth to your Child? OR Are you someone who has tried everything but still can see your belly bulging out? Not only this but you also feel pain in your back and is having poor posture or alignment. Then this can be more than what we call as fat accumulated around the belly area. It could be “Diastasis Recti”

WHAT IS DIASTASIS RECTI

Diastasis Recti is the separation of the abdominal muscles and commonly occurs during the second or third trimester of pregnancy. It is caused by increased stress and tension on the abdominal muscles when the baby grows inside the tummy. It is more likely to occur in women with multiple or Twin pregnancies or women who gave birth to heavy babies. In most of the cases, the abdominal muscles closes on its own after some time, but this is not the case for all women. Every body and pregnancy is different and mostly after child-birth, the stomach will have a protrusion, depending on the severity. It happens mainly because the abdominal muscles are separated and internal organs are pressing against a thin layer of connective tissue between the abdominals. This condition can also lead to development of Hernia at a later stage or may even require an intervention of Surgery to correct it. So, women especially after their pregnancies should not rush for any extensive exercises and focus on first building up and correcting their core muscles.

diastasis recti

A point to be noted here is that this condition isn’t limited to pregnancy but It can affect anyone, including kids and men. In some cases, it can result from lifting heavy weights incorrectly or performing excessive or unsafe abdominal exercises. (So if someone told you that if you do crunches, planks or sit-ups daily, you will reduce your belly fat then please don’t do it. More than the fact that the fat cannot be spot reduced, excessively training the same muscle group daily may cause some serious damages as well).

FIVE SIGNS THAT YOU HAVE DIASTASIS RECTI

Two out of three women have diastasis recti and they don’t even know about it. Most of the doctors will not warn you about this condition and that becomes one of the main reasons for women getting disappointed with their belly protruding outside even after months or years of pregnancy. Here are the five most visible signs that shows that you may have diastasis recti:-

1. You have that bulging tummy which makes you feel that you are still 4-5 months pregnant. The tummy can be cone shaped or have a protrusion near your belly area and then a sudden dip down the belly button. (Refer the picture for Reference)

2. When you do any kind of jumping exercises or may be running or even sneeze or cough, you feel that pressure on your urinary bladder which may lead to make you pee a little bit. You may also feel discomfort or pain during the sexual activities.

3. You are dealing with a severe lower or middle back pain especially while you lift something (even while lifting or carrying your baby).

4. You are mostly constipated and your tummy feels bloated all the time.

5. Your posture is bad and you don’t have a good alignment which may lead to slouching.

 

HOW TO CHECK WHETHER YOU HAVE DIASTASIS RECTI

The best way to check and get an assurance about this condition would be to visit your gynecologist or a physiotherapist. But here is one method which may also help you in checking it on your own :-

1. Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor.

2. Raise your shoulders up off the floor slightly, supporting your head with one hand, like you do when you sit up or do a crunch and look down at your belly.

3. Move your other hand above and below your bellybutton, and all along your midline Ab muscles. See if you can fit any fingers in the gaps between your muscles.

4. If you feel a gap, or separation of one to two finger lengths, you likely have a case of diastasis recti. After a few weeks postpartum, the gap will start to narrow as your muscles regain strength.

But if it is been years of child-birth and you can still feel that gap, it’s something to be taken care of.

 

EXERCISES OR THINGS TO AVOID WHEN YOU HAVE DIASTASIS RECTI

1. Don’t lift heavy. Even if you have to lift your baby, suck in your tummy to your spine and then lift up. This will provide better support to your back.

2. Don’t do crunches or sit-ups. These exercises just strengthen the muscles that pull you more into that slump. They can take you out of alignment, ruin your posture, break down your intervertebral discs, bulge your belly {try one right now and see if your belly goes in or out} and they increase pressure to the pelvic floor and should be totally avoided if you have diastasis recti because of Pregnancy.

3. Avoid Full or Elbow Planks. The only thing separating your guts from the floor in a full or elbow plank position is the wall of your abs. If your abs have a DR or lack of strength or have the extra weight of intra-abdominal fat or pregnancy, you’re simply putting all that pressure and weight on the linea alba connective tissue fascia that runs down the middle of your abs. Though Planks can be modified and supported to find the safe level of pressure for each individual, but you have to be willing to put a hand on the tummy to feel if the core is just hanging, or if the rectus abs are firing while the transverse does nothing. So, idea is to focus on baby steps if you have this condition. A big no to 30-day plank challenges here.

4. Avoid extreme twisting motions.

 

WAYS TO CORRECT DIASTASIS RECTI

1. Focusing on reduction of fat percentage – Eat a well balanced Nutritious meal after delivery, The base for reducing your weight and fat percentage starts by going into a calorie deficit. So, don’t expect it to get corrected or get that flat belly if you still are in an unhealthy weight range or have a high fat percentage.

2. Practice Core breathing. Yoga moves like Kapalbathi are useful in correcting this condition.

3. Start with a Walking routine with special care of your posture and alignment. You can practice the art of sucking your tummy in while breathing normally all throughout the day.

4. You can safely do the following exercises 3-4 times a week alongwith a walking regime:-
Pelvic Tilts, kegels Bridges, Supermans, Cobra Pose, Side Lying Leg Lifts, bodyweight Squats and Side Plank.

Important Point :- You may have delivered a baby 6 weeks ago, 6 months ago or 6-12 years ago, with proper core exercises, you can again build up your core muscles and correct this condition and get that flat belly.

Like and share with anyone who is in need of this. Feel free to ask any specific queries you have with regard to this topic in the comments below.

Ritu Kumar Singh is a fitness coach at myhealthbuddy. She is a law graduate and an ex-Army Officer with keen interest in learning new exercise forms. She is an ardent dancer and a marathon runner. She decided to transform people’s life after going through her own post-partum weightloss journey.

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