Check yourself before you wreck yourself!
During pregnancy, due to your baby’s growth, your uterus and abdominal muscles change the shape of your belly. These changes can cause a diastasis recti, the gap between the abdominal muscles. The separation of the rectus abdominis muscles and the stretching of the linea alba connective tissues can lead to new challenges after birth. This muscle separation often decreases in the first months after childbirth.
Aggressive abdominal exercises in the postpartum time like crunches or sit-ups can actually make the separation worse. This gap, the diastasis recti, creates weakness and can lead to back pain. Postural difficulties can also lead to increased weakness in the abdominal muscles as well as pelvic floor dysfunction.
- Lay on your back on a solid surface with your knees bent. Make sure your feet are flat on the floor.
- Put one hand behind your head and lift your head and shoulders on an exhale breath, lifting enough so that you are looking at your toes.
- Place two of your fingers just below your sternum (breast bone).
- Gently move your fingers from side to side. Notice any depth or width between the abdominus recti muscles – this might feel like a small gully that your fingers can sink into.
- Determine how many fingers fit into the abdominal gap side to side – 1, 2, 3, or 4. Also notice how deep your fingers sink.
- If two or more finger fit side to side or your fingers sink in past the first finger joint, seek out a diastasis recti specialist.