The human body is capable of some pretty amazing things, like pregnancy. Growing another human being inside of you is one of the toughest things you and your body will ever do together. After your baby is born, though, your body is forever changed. You might have stretch marks or wider hips, bigger feet, and a new love for caffeine. One thing you shouldn't have is an extended abdominal wall caused by the lingering separation of your abdominal muscles following pregnancy (mommy pooch, anyone?). This is known as diastasis recti.
To accommodate your growing baby, your body slowly stretches the abdominal wall, allowing the two long muscles to move outward as the connective tissue in between expands. Depending on how you carry your baby, there might be more expansion above, centered or below the belly button.(Photo: Fit Mommy)
After delivery, your organs, including your stomach, intestines, uterus and everything in between, all slowly shift back to their original places (as close as they can). This takes time. The expansion of your abdominal wall took 10 months to complete, so yes, it's going to take a while to collapse again. If you find it's been a couple months since you've had your baby and you've got this "soft spot" still, it's time to test yourself.
Test for Diastasis Recti:
- Lie back on the floor and bend your knees so your feet are on the floor, too. Make sure your back is pressing into the ground.
- Place two fingers on the center line of your abdominal wall. You can draw an imaginary line from your belly button to your sternum and from the belly button down to the pubic bone. Relax.
- Gently lift your head, tucking your chin into your chest. This will cause the tummy muscles to contract or flex.
- If you feel a gap between your muscles with your two fingers, you could have diastasis. Anything as wide or wider than two fingertips is cause for concern. Anything smaller than that should heal on its own with time and appropriate ab exercises.
>> Read more: Are Your Postpartum Abs Ready for Exercise?
"I think I have diastasis!" Don't freak out. Women who haven't been pregnant, even men, can have this diagnosis as well. With patience, you can bring it all back together.
Here's how to fix diastasis recti. First, talk to your doctor. Your OB-GYN can recommend some pelvic floor therapy in addition to a chiropractor or physical therapist who can start you on your path to recovery. Click here to get an idea of what you can do at home to strengthen your lady parts.
There are several resources available online, but sometimes it's more worthwhile to go in and see a professional who can make corrections and help you pace yourself. The most important thing to remember is to be gentle, and NO CRUNCHES! Check out this workout designed just for C-section moms or watch the video workout below to get started on your recovery:
>> Read more: Close The Gap With Diastasis Recti Therapy Exercises