Carrying a mummy tummy post pregnancy? Check for Diastasis Recti

Published on: 4 June 2022, 15:30 pm IST

Since pregnancy leads to excessive weight gain, it is essential to effectively lose that postpartum weight to be healthy. 

diastasis recti
Diastasis Recti is more common than we think. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
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Getting pregnant is a blessing for every woman but let’s not forget, it comes with its share of weight gain. If there’s excessive weight gain during pregnancy, it can also increase risk of postpartum weight retention. And there could be other reasons, such as Diastasis Recti, if you continue to have a protruding belly for a long time.

All new mothers can start exercising post-delivery, under the guidance of their physical therapist. But a few things should be taken into consideration while starting postpartum workout. 

Initially, bed exercises such as ankle toe pumps, bridging, pelvic tilts and Kegel exercises can help new mothers in regaining their mobility. They can continue these exercises for a few days, whether it is normal delivery or C-section. Not to forget, it is important to meet your physical therapist and get yourself checked for Diastasis Recti as soon as you feel comfortable. 

Diastasis Recti is a condition where the rectus abdominis muscles (large abdominal muscles) separate from the mid-line due to being stretched during pregnancy. It can be partial or complete separation. A persistent separation of 1.5 to 2 centimeters or more, between the muscles, is generally considered abnormal and requires treatment until cured. 

Also, read: 5 fruits that are safe to eat during pregnancy

How to test yourself for Diastasis Recti

Lie down on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Put one hand on your belly, with your fingers at the midline of your navel. Press your fingertips down gently, and bring your head (shoulders stay on the ground) up into a mini crunch-like position. Feel for the sides of your rectus abdominis muscles, and see if and how far they are separated. 

motherhood
A happy and healthy mother means a healthy baby too. Image Courtesy: Shutterstock

Separation is commonly discussed in terms of finger width. For instance, two or three (or more) fingers separation might indicate diastasis recti. One finger separation is normal and three or more finger separation might require surgery. 

In case there is no Diastasis Recti, new mothers can start shedding their postpartum weight by strengthening the core muscles first. For the first 4 weeks, there has to be a focus on the muscles of the core that get weakened during pregnancy. 

The following exercises can be done postpartum:

  1. Modified plank 
  2. Side plank
  3. Superman (alternating arm and leg)
  4. Cobra
  5. Crunches
  6. Reverse crunches

The mentioned exercises are used to strengthen the core but are supposed to be done along with other forms of exercises like circuit and cardio workout. It is important to strengthen your core during pregnancy, which is possible under supervision of a physiotherapist. 

Plan a postpartum workout with your baby

New moms can also do the workout with their little ones so that they don’t have to leave the baby alone for the workout. They can try:

  1. Baby overhead press
  2. Walking lunges
  3. Squats with the baby in hands
  4. Peek-a-boo pushups
  5. Bench press with baby
exercises during pregnancy
Even a basic walk for around 30-45 minutes can help. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Try swimming or cycling

Swimming and cycling are very good aerobic exercises that help to burn calories. A minimum of 300 calories are burnt with half an hour of swimming or cycling. It helps to burn the overall fat of your body making you fitter, healthier and stronger. 

In case there is Diastasis Recti and separation is two fingers apart or less, avoid any exercises to lose postpartum weight that can create trauma to the abdominal areas, like planks, crunches, bicycling etc. 

A happy mother leads to a happy baby so please take care of yourself. 

Dr Priyanka Khanna (PT) Dr Priyanka Khanna (PT)

Dr Priyanka Khanna (PT) Lactation Consultant and Women's Health Physiotherapist Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, Punjabi Bagh, New Delhi

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