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Will your abs really split open during pregnancy? Well, If I'm being honest, yes, your abs will likely split during pregnancy. It is actually quite common during and post pregnancy and is called diastasis recti.
Let’s briefly talk anatomy. The outermost layer of your abs is called the rectus abdominis muscle. The muscle originates at your pubic bone and extends up the midline, past your belly button, inserting at the bottom of your sternum (aka breastbone). The rectus abdominis has both a left and a right half which is connected together by fascia called the linea alba. The widening and thinning of the fascia occurs when your body has to withstand long periods of increased abdominal pressure - as we do during pregnancy. As a result, the right and left halves can separate, leaving you with a gap between your abdominal muscles.
A small amount of widening of the mid line happens in all pregnancies, and it is NORMAL. It only becomes problematic when it is more than 2-2.5 finger widths. Not only can this gap leave you with some serious mummy-tummy postpartum but it also makes you more susceptible to lower back pain, lead to pelvic floor instability, and increase the risk of herniation if it goes undetected and/or untreated.
Diastasis Reciti can be diagnosed with a simple physical exam by your doctor. Checking at home on a regular basis is not recommended as it requires putting stress on the abdominal muscles which may aggravate a pre-existing diastasis or even lead to one if you're checking often enough. All women should be assessed for the presence of a diastasis by 20 weeks of pregnancy and if one is found, all twisting movements should be eliminated (in workouts and otherwise) in order to reduce any shearing forces applied to the connective tissues of the abdominals as this aggravates the diastasis.
Don’t worry, there's hope for your mummy tummy! Most uncomplicated abdominal separations will repair on their own, but there are a few things you can do to help yourself along and in some cases extensive rehabilitation, even surgery, is necessary.
Please consult with a medical professional if you experience any redness or pain over the abdomen or continuous vomiting.
Mummy-tummy is nothing to be ashamed of - you housed a baby for 40 weeks (give or take), after all! That said, it's important that we take care of ourselves so that we can be present and actively engaged in our children's lives for years to come. While a lot of diastasis repair programs focus their marketing on making us look pretty, lets keep in mind that the abdominal wall, more than anything, protects our organs and helps hold us up…literally! Assessing and treating a diastasis early on is important not only aesthetically but also functionally. Put yourself first for this one momma! Looking good and feeling great is something we all deserve - making time to prevent and treat this issue will only enforce to your kids that taking time for your health is a non-negotiable.
Material on this website is provided for informational purposes only. It should not be used as a replacement for medical diagnosis, treatment, or professional medical advice. Always seek professional medical consultation by a licensed medical or naturopathic physician for diagnosis and treatment of any medical condition. Please seek medical attention immediately if ever concerned.