It is important to resume pelvic floor exercises as soon as possible after delivery. A weak pelvic floor can cause urine leakage when you cough, sneeze or laugh. If this occurs, avoid high impact exercise until your pelvic floor improves. Compound exercises will serve you best. These are the exercises that use many muscles at one time, like squats.
Diastasis recti – abdominal separation
What is it?
Diastasis recti is a separation between the left and right side of the rectus abdominis muscle, which covers the front surface of the belly area.
How do you know if you still have a separation?
You can either check it yourself or have someone check it for you. Either way, the same method is used. The instructions for self- check are as follows:
Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
Relax your head and shoulders and place your fingers horizontally just below your naval.
Lift your head, neck and shoulders slightly off the floor and press down with your fingertips.
If you feel a gap, that’s the diastasis. You will feel the muscles close in around your fingers as you lift your head and neck.
A diastasis recti gap is measured in finger width. You should aim for one to two finger gap or less, but don’t panic if it’s much bigger at first – up to ten fingers is not unheard of!
How long will it take to close your gap?
It should reverse by four weeks after delivery. If it doesn’t, it’s imperative your exercise program doesn’t further compromise your abdominal wall.
To ensure your diastasis recti reverses, you must continuously “switch on” your deep abdominal muscle (transversus abdominis). To do this, think about pulling your naval to your spine with everything you do, including picking up your baby, sneezing, coughing, exercising, standing up, etc – not just when you’re specifically exercising your abs.
These muscles help stabilise you in everyday activities and help reduce risk of back pain or injury.