a real side splitter

I was keeping myself busy the other day, doing sit ups.

OK, I wasn’t doing sit ups, I was trying to recline by the pool (besides, you’re not meant to do exercises lying on you back after week 16 or so, depending on what you read).

Anyways, I was in a kind of half sit up position and noticed a pretty unpleasant looking bulge in the middle of where my abs should be.

It was about the size of a baby’s head, and that what I thought it was, until I read about the separation of abdominal muscles, or diastasis recti, that occurs normally during many pregnancies, especially at later stages.

According to birth.com.au, “the internal organs in the abdomen are covered by two large muscle sheets (known as ‘Recti muscles’). These muscles cover the belly and run from the rib cage, down to the pubic bone. They meet in the middle of the abdomen, in line with the belly button. Towards the end of the pregnancy, it is normal for these abdominal muscles to separate, to allow the belly to accommodate your growing baby.”

Ouch! Well, not really.

In fact, I wouldn’t have even noticed if I hadn’t been looking, and many women don’t notice at all until a check-up after birth (if then).

Apparently it usually fixes itself once your body slowly returns to normal (ish), particularly if you get back into regular exercise and focus on strengthening your core after bub is born, although some women need assistance in the form of a health professional (physio etc).

So how do you know if this has happened to you?

Birth.com.au suggests the following test:

Lie flat on your back with your knees bent. Have you head lying flat as well (no pillow).

Raise your head forward, tucking your chin into your chest.

Hold this position, while you gently press your fingertips above and below the belly button, (vertically up the middle of your belly).

You are feeling for a 1 to 5 centimetre gap, or a soft bulge. You may even be able to see it.

While it isn’t a major issue, if this happens to you, befitmom.com offers some tips on movements to avoid.

  • Movements where the upper body twists and the arm on that side reaches backward, such as during a tennis serve. 
  • Exercises that require lying backward over a large exercise ball.
  • Yoga postures that stretch the abs, such as “cow pose,” “up-dog,” all backbends, and “belly breathing.” 
  • Most traditional abdominal exercises that work the exterior abdominal muscles, such as crunches and oblique curls. 
  • All exercises that cause your abdominal wall to bulge out upon exertion. 
  • Rising from a supine position by rolling up and twisting at the same time. Instead, roll first onto your side, and then use your arms to help push yourself up to a sitting position. 
  • Lifting and carrying very heavy objects. 
  • Intense coughing while your muscles are unsupported.

Oh, the joys of pregnancy! Just more motivation to hit the gym after I meet the baby.

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