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Tummy Trouble

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Women’s health physiotherapist, Caroline Gavin of Vie Physio offers tummy advice for new mums.

Q/ After having my baby one year ago, I still feel like my tummy hasn’t returned to normal. I’ve heard that it is a split in my tummy muscles and to avoid sit ups as it will make things worse. What can I do to help this and make my belly look normal again?

A/ Lots of ladies ask about this after they have had a baby.

The gap in the tummy muscles that you refer to is called Diastasis Rectus Abdominis (DRA). In most cases, it is not actually a ‘split’ but a widening and thinning of the connective tissue between the two ‘6-pack’ muscles.

It is a completely normal part of pregnancy where the abdominal muscles make more space for your growing baby. One hundred per cent of women have this after 35 weeks in pregnancy.

After the baby is born, you may become aware of this gap in your tummy above, below and/or at your belly button. You may even notice a “coning” or a “doming” of your tummy muscles when you are lifting your head whilst lying down or getting out of bed or by doing exercise that is too advanced too soon.

Exercise, at the right level for you, is an important part of rehabilitation of diastasis.

It is extremely important to get the basics right after you have had a baby, and this means reconnecting with your core and your pelvic floor before progressing to more advanced exercise.

We regularly see ladies who attend bootcamp or HIIT classes to regain their pre-pregnancy bodies but if the abdominals and pelvic floor have not been rehabilitated first, these types of classes can sometimes be too strenuous.

If the type of exercise is too advanced, ladies will often make minimal progress in their abdominal strength and can even develop issues such as back pain, urinary incontinence and/or prolapse.

A women’s health physiotherapist can teach you the foundations of exercise; breathing and pelvic floor muscle activation and advise you on an appropriate level of exercise to rehabilitate your diastasis so that you can regain confidence and get back to a healthy active lifestyle.

For more information on pelvic physiotherapy click here.

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