Diastasis Recti (DR) is often referred to as "mummy tummy" - but what is it and how does it occur?
So common to many women post birth, diastasis recti can be described as the stretching, weakening and dysfunction of the front and sides of the abdominal muscles and includes the connective tissues and fascia of these muscles. In media speak, it is the ‘mummy tummy’; the ‘gap’ or the ‘dome’ and can cause that ‘still looking five months pregnant’ appearance. Separation of the tummy muscles after pregnancy is "normal" - the baby has to grow and this is one of the many changes that the body goes through during pregnancy that can accommodate that. However, the good news is, that many of these changes are not forever and that with the proper care and attention the body can heal and repair itself. For some lucky ladies it is automatic and they never have to think about it, and for others it may take some patience, nurturing and dedication to get there.
Ultimately the abdominal wall is one of the four major elements of the "core", and all components need to be functioning optimally for the core to do its primary job of providing a strong foundation and withstanding pressure/transferring load created by movement. The "gap" in the abdominal wall means that the capacity to withstand pressure and transfer load and force of movement will not be 100%, compromising the overall function of the core. This combined with all the lifting and carrying a new mum has to do can cause pelvic or back pain, and a weakened pelvic floor which can cause prolapse or incontinence.
To learn more about "The Core and How to Protect It", check out my blog.
The good news is that whether you gave birth a few months ago or a few years ago there is almost certainly something that can be done to help. There is no magic wand but it is important to remember that this is about so much more than just exercise and requires a truly holistic approach looking at:
Lifetsyle and Stress Management - stress delays healing.
Nutrition - Protein at every meal and plenty of vegetables.
Hydration - Drinking enough water is key.
Posture/Alignment - more about the importance of posture here
Breathing Well - you take thousands of breaths a day, is your breath working to help or hinder your healing?
all of which will help with reconnecting you with your "core".
Its important to remember that our goal is not just to “close the gap” or flatten the tummy, but to restore normal functioning of the abdominal wall, of the muscles of the core including the pelvic floor, and generate normal degrees of tension through the linea alba so movements and daily activities are performed optimally without pain or dysfunction.