Is Mummy Tummy A Real Thing? How To Reduce Your Rectus Diastasis

Is Mummy Tummy A Real Thing? How To Reduce Your Rectus Diastasis

Is Mummy Tummy A Real Thing? How To Reduce Your Rectus Diastasis

 

There’s plenty of talk amongst new and experienced moms about what’s happening with their tummies. Why is there a bulge? Why don’t my clothes fit the same anymore? Why is my back hurting? And the famous question- will my stomach ever go back to the way it was before baby? New moms always ask each other how to reduce tummy fat and rectus diastasis.

 

Some women’s ‘elastic bands’ stretch more than others and are unable to return to their original position, resulting in the abdominal separation known as Diastasis Recti.

 

The name ‘Mummy Tummy’ may be a baby-group myth, but a Diastasis Recti is as real as that adorable new baby of yours. As your belly grows during pregnancy, the fascia (tissue) connecting the two sides of your abdominal muscle stretches. Picture an elastic band holding together the left and right side of your belly. Some women’s ‘elastic bands’ stretch more than others and are unable to return to their original position, resulting in the abdominal separation known as Diastasis Recti. This is more likely to happen the more pregnancies you’ve had, if you’ve had babies close together, or have had a multiple pregnancy.

 

How to check for a Diastasis Recti?

  • Lie on your back with both knees bent and feet on the ground
  • One hand behind your head
  • Other hand at your belly button with your fingers parallel to your shoulders
  • Tuck your chin and VERY SLIGHTLY lift your head off the floor
  • If your fingers sink in and you feel a space between the right and left side of your stomach muscles, measure the split by feeling how many fingers can fit between the muscle
  • 3 fingers = 3 cm separation
  • Measure again 2 cm above the belly button and 2cm below

 

What to avoid if you have a Diastasis Recti:

  • Crunches & sit ups
  • Sitting straight up from lying down position (Instead: roll to your side first then use your hand to push up to sitting)
  • Lifting both legs up at the same time (while lying down or sitting)
  • Twists (bicycles, triangle pose)
  • Stretching the stomach (upward facing dog)

 

Diastasis recti exercises

#1 -Abdominal Breathing: Lying on your back with your knees bent, inhale into your lungs, then as you exhale, lift your pelvic floor (trying to stop the flow of urine) and imagine bringing your hip bones closer together (without actually moving). Repeat until it becomes difficult to coordinate.

 

#2- Basic Transverse Abdominis contraction: use the technique in step #2 to contract muscle, then while maintaining the contraction, slide one heel along floor to straighten leg and then slide heel back to starting position. Alternate legs.

 

#3- Transverse Abdominis contractions advance through a series of progressive exercises.

 

Will my tummy ever get back to the way it was pre-baby?

Yes it will! But it takes time (can sometimes take a year or more!) and effort (doing the right exercises).

 

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Quick Tips:

  • Check for a diastasis!

  • Prevent it!

  • Treat it with easy exercises.

 

Jody Yoken, DPT

About Jody Yoken, DPT

Jody is a mom of 4 boys under the age of 4 and lives to tell about it! In her ‘spare time’ she works as an Orthopaedic Physiotherapist (treating athletes and pre/post-natal women), competes in triathlons, and drinks lattes!

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