Exercise After Childbirth-Part 3
So we’ve discussed the issues of low back pain and pelvic organ prolapse in two previous posts. There is one other issue you need to be aware of that doing the wrong kinds of exercises can keep from healing and that is diastasis recti.
A diastasis recti is a separation of the rectus abdominus muscle, otherwise known as the six-pack muscle. The rectus abdmonius muscle runs from the sternum down to the pubic bone and has two muscle fibers separated by a connective tissue called the linea alba. During pregnancy, as the uterus expands the two muscle bellies separate and the linea alba gets stretched thin. It is very important to allow this connective tissue to heal so the muscle bellies can come back together. Any activity that causes the abdomen to move forward forcefully causes this connective tissue to stretch out thus preventing it from healing.
Also any twisting motion causes the rectus muscle bellies to separate making the diastasis larger. You need to avoid all twisting motions and any forward forceful movements so you can let your rectus muscle to come back together and heal. Sit ups or crunches, especially with twisting are the worst thing you could be doing right after having a baby as the transverse muscle is so weak it can’t keep the lower abdomen from jutting out. Many moms are doing sit up wondering why they aren’t getting their bellies smaller. Sit-ups are working the wrong muscle and doing more damage than good in the post partum period. It’s the transverse muscle that needs to be strengthened.
What is the best way to strengthen the abdominal muscles?
Pulling your belly button all the way back toward your spine and holding it there, WITHOUT HOLDING YOUR BREATH, and then trying to do little pulses to take it back even farther. When the muscle is weak you will notice movement with your pulses at end range of your abdominal contraction. You want to get the muscle stronger to when you go to pulse there is actually no movement that occurs. That will help shorten your lengthened abdominal muscles. Start off just doing 10 pulses and work you way up to doing as many as you can at one time with 100 being your goal. Doing this several times throughout the day will help you lose the pooch that so many women have after pregnancy.