When you are pregnant, you can expect certain changes. Maybe your feet swell up or you get strange cravings. Nausea occurs in many, but occurs by week 16. Many of these appear in books that await us or we are gently informed about them by our friends and family. But somehow, split abs seem to be excluded from the list of weird things our bodies do during pregnancy.
YesYou heard us right – split off. Your mind could conjure up something extraterrestrialbut it’s not that dramatic. However, the division of the abdominal muscles (diastis recti) towards the end of or after pregnancy is something you need to know about!
What is diastis recti?
Diastasis recti is what we call the thinning and enlargement of your abdominal muscles – this thinning develops as your stomach expands in the later stages of pregnancy. This change in your body to accommodate the baby is normal, but it can cause the right and left sides of your six pack abs (also known as the rectus abdominis muscles) to separate under the skin.
You may notice this as a notch or bulge in the middle of your abdomen, but it can also be accompanied by back pain, difficulty maintaining good posture, and constipation and gas.
Diastic recti are very common; It happens to about half of pregnant people, but is more common if you have multiple patients, have had repeated abdominal surgery (like a cesarean section), and have had more than one pregnancy.
In rare cases, the separation can be so bad that it causes an inguinal hernia when organs pierce through the severed abdominal muscles and press against the skin.
Can you prevent secession during pregnancy?
You may not be able to prevent diastic recti, but you can take some steps to reduce its severity. You already know the importance of not lifting heavy objects during pregnancy, but you should also make sure that your back is well supported as you sit and that you maintain good posture.
If you already have strong abs, they are less likely to separate. However, if you are already pregnant there are some exercises that are okay and some that are not. Your doctor should be able to recommend core exercises that can be safely done during pregnancy.
What if I already had split abs during pregnancy?
Split abs can recover on their own. It is important to remember not to “push” your abs to make the split bigger and to avoid uncomfortable activities. This includes any high-impact exercise that involves bulging your abs, holding a baby on one hip (if it hurts), or lifting heavy objects.
If you have split abs and want to aid recovery, avoid traditional crunches, situps, and planks after giving birth until your stomach is healed. These exercises can make the condition worse. To safely recover from split abs, check out leg extensors, but speak to your doctor first!
You may want to use a support element like wrapping or binding material, which can be helpful in a similar way to wrapping a rolled ankle. But be careful. If tied too tight, postpartum wraps can actually degrade your core by putting more pressure on the pelvic floor.
As you know, pregnancy weakens your pelvic floor and makes it difficult to function when your abs are weak.
Lane Baumeister is an international Canadian writer with years of experience creating educational and entertaining articles dealing with intimate health and sexual wellbeing. When she’s not into menstruation, she devotes herself to extremely good food and equally bad movies.