Pregnancy is a beautiful journey that brings upon many changes in a woman’s body.
Among these changes, the abdominal muscles undergo significant transformations to accommodate the growing baby.
Before you jump into our brand new Transform Pregnancy Program we’re going to run you through how the abdominals are affected during pregnancy, including the occurrence of abdominal separation, commonly known as Diastasis Recti.
We will also explore preventative measures and the importance of pelvic floor exercises for maintaining abdominal health during and after pregnancy.
Abdominal Separation & Pregnancy:
During pregnancy, the body creates space for your growing baby.
The rectus abdominis muscles, which extend from the chest to the pelvic, naturally separate from each other.
This separation places additional strain on the connective tissue between the muscles.
While most women’s abdominals return to their pre-pregnancy state around 8 weeks postpartum, some may experience Diastatis Recti - a condition characterised by significant abdominal separation that can lead to various issues.
Diastatis Recti & its Challenges:
Diastatis Recti is a common concern for many women after childbirth.
It can cause back pain, core weakness, and stubborn fat around the belly button that is difficult to eliminate.
In order to prevent exacerbating this condition, it is essential to take certain precautions during and after pregnancy.
Avoiding Diastasis Recti:
To minimise the risk of Diastatis Recti, be sure to consider the following preventative measures:
- Limit heavy lifting once you reach the 20-week mark in your pregnancy.
- When getting out of bed or off the couch, roll onto your side instead of using your abdominal muscles directly.
- Avoid abdominal exercises like planks, crunches, and twists from the second trimester onward.
- Engage your core muscles correctly during exercise by pulling your belly button toward your spine and activating your pelvic floor muscles.
Understanding the Pelvic Floor:
The pelvic floor comprises a group of muscles and ligaments located between the tailbone and the pubic bone within the pelvis that acts like a hammock, supporting the bowel, bladder, uterus, and vagina.
A strong pelvic floor helps prevent problems like incontinence and prolapse of the pelvic organs.
Importance of Pelvic Floor Exercises:
Maintaining a strong and functional pelvic floor is crucial during pregnancy and beyond.
These exercises are not only vital for supporting the growing baby but also for allowing proper emptying of the bladder and bowel, it is also essential during childbirth,
Performing Pelvic Floor Exercises Correctly:
While it’s advisable to consult with a Women’s Physiotherapist to ensure accurate execution, here’s a general guideline for pelvic floor exercises:
- Start by squeezing and lifting your pelvic floor muscles as strongly and as quickly as possible.
- Hold the contraction for 2 to 3 seconds and then release.
- Rest for a few seconds each squeeze.
- Visualise the exercise like operating an elevator: close the doors, lift the elevator, lower it, and then let the door open slowly.
- Practice doing 10 two-part contractions with a clear sequence: close - lift - lower - open.
- Practice these every day of your pregnancy and every day for life!
It is important to understand how pregnancy affects the abdominal muscles, particularly in relation to Diastatis Recti and the pelvic floor, that is crucial for women seeking to maintain their core strength and overall well-being.
By following preventative measures and incorporating regular pelvic floor exercises into their routine, women can mitigate the impact on their abdominals and promote a healthier postpartum recovery.
Remember, always consult with a healthcare professional for personalised advice and guidance during and after pregnancy.
Good luck mummas!
By Courtney Moane.