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Mind The Gap

nina parnham lying on a yoga mat demonstrating how to check for diastasis

Your well into the post baby period after bringing your bundle of joy into the world, and it’s one of those afternoons where you have plans to get together with fellow Mummy friends. Between you, you drink large amounts of naughty caffeine loaded drinks, discuss your lack of sleep and try for a small snippet of time to feel normalised amongst the tiny ball of chaotic love that has come into your life. 

You chat, that general Mummy chat (you know the type!). Is your baby sleeping through? Have you started weaning yet? Are you going back to work? Which baby classes are you attending? Are you feeding through the night? It is an absolute minefield. But then one of your friends brings up her Mum tum, and your heart sinks. It’s hard to ignore the comparative chats that naturally always arise, but you know that it’s an area that you would rather avoid. Because one of your friends looks like she has never had a baby, the other has been exercising and is finally starting to get her pre baby body back but your Mum tum is still . . Well, it looks as it did 8 months ago when you gave birth. You feel completely lost, with no answer about why this is happening and there seems to be no logical explanation. You eat well, you remain relatively active and you have no reason to not be slowly starting to go back to feeling what you would class as ‘normal’. 

But take a step back from the conversation and consider this for a moment. Your body is so much more complex than you realise, and as women we are always so focused on bringing our babies safely into the world that we neglect the fact that our new body requires refreshed knowledge and understanding. It’s time for you to reprogramme and learn how to restore your core safely and stop comparing with your Mum pals as your bodies are all SO unique. 

Let’s tackle and discuss a potential cause of this particular body insecurity. . .

DIASTASIS RECTI

What is it? How does it connect to your Mum tum? And how can you safely restore it?

Diastasis Recti is a separation of the abdominal muscles during pregnancy which, once having the baby, do not return to their original alignment in turn leaving a gap between your abdominal walls. Every case of postnatal diastasis differs from the next but a lot of women are unaware, ignore or don’t feel like there is a solution to the problem that is halting their recovery process. Ignorance isn’t blind in this scenario, and diastasis is often the cause of the dreaded ‘mum tum’. That little tum pooch that stops you from wearing your favourite outfit and leaves you looking in the mirror lusting after your pre baby bod, is often where there is no muscular abdominal wall to hold your organs in place. There is actually only a thin layer of connective tissue, known as the linea alba, meaning your organs protrude through giving you a paunchy looking mummy tummy. So, with this in mind, you need to educate ourselves on feeling for the gap, reducing the gap and nurturing your core.

What are some of the other symptoms?

– Posture and stability problems

– Constipation

– Incontinence

– Back pain

– Having problems with abdominal pressure (Coughing, Sneezing, Laughing, Jumping)

– Less internal support of intestines 

How do you know if you have Diastasis Recti?

You can feel for this yourself by laying on your back with your knees bent. Place your fingers over your belly button area and relaxing your abdominal muscles, lift your head and shoulders off the floor. You may feel a dip, or see your belly move into a dome shape. If this occurs then you have abdominal separation.

What can you do to protect your abdominal and core strength during pregnancy and postnatal?

– Ensure you are practicing pelvic floor exercises correctly

– Work with your core breath as you practice pelvic floor exercises

– Avoid planks / front loaded exercises

– Avoid high impact exercise

– Practice optimum nutrition, health and hydration for healing

The ‘gap’ really is only a symptom of the problem, even though it can feel like your biggest problem! The reason that it isn’t closing is down to a weakness in the underlying abdominal muscles, and the most recent research shows that providing the gap is less than 2cm, you do not need to close it completely. The focus should be on your core strength. It is the central part of your body, and is crucial for making all movements possible. It allows you to be flexible, strong and stable so it is important that we work on our core, allowing our entire central body to connect and protect your internal organs and spine. If you are not sure how severe your Diastasis Recti, seek the advice of a registered specialist and ensure that you are working toward a solution in a responsible way. Help can be sought for you at any time after having babies, and even decades later, improvements can still be made. If you seek out a specialist Mummy MOT (R) practitioner, like Nina at SWWC, you can have tailored holistic advice that is specialist to your bodies needs postnatally and learn about your personal in-depth recovery process. It will give you the opportunity to feel confident next time you meet your Mummy friends for coffee, knowing that you are on the path to having the knowledge to regain control of your core strength, mental strength and confidence. 

Lastly, and most importantly, you should always feel proud of your bodies achievements, and rather than spending time worrying about how pleasing your tummy looks, focus on it’s function. Focus on the incredible job it has done, how it has catered to bringing a new life into the world, and the fact that you now have a reward that will stay with you for life.

If you find are struggling with the initial tummy gap check from home, or want further professional advice, head over to our social media pages where we have some fantastic videos of women who have experienced Diastasis Recti. Alternatively, visit here to find out more about our Mummy MOT (R) Postnatal Wellbeing Check.

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