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How to Reduce Stomach Separation in Pregnancy

success storiesAlmost all pregnant women will experience some form of stomach separation during their pregnancy as their belly grows and stretches to make space for the growing baby. However, there are steps you can take to protect your core during pregnancy to reduce the degree and depth of stomach separation.

success storiesThis is a pic of my stomach ‘coning’ or ‘doming’. It reflecsts a weakness in the fascia that connects the right and left abdominal muscles. It is not always a sign of stomach separation, but it is a sign that you are putting too much pressure through your core.  It is also an indication of what stomach separation might look like in pregnancy.

What is Stomach Separation?

success storiesIn summary, stomach separation (also referred to as Rectus Diastasis) is the separation of the right and left halves of your six pack muscles from the midline. Running down the centre of your belly is a band of fibrous connective tissue called the linea alba. The linea alba connects your pelvis to your ribcage. This is the weakest part of your core and will stretch or thin to make way for the baby. Stomach separation occurs when this fascia stretches or thins more than what is considered normal for your body.

success storiesThere are ways to test for stomach separation, however, it is not recommended to test yourself during pregnancy. Working with a women’s health physio will help you to understand how your core works and also learn how to protect your core in a way that is suited to your unique body.

 Tips to Reduce Stomach Separation in Pregnancy

Good posture!

It’s so simple! The linea alba connects the pelvis to the sternum. If you stand with your ribs thrust out all day or are constantly arching into your lower back, you are going to be putting extra strain and stretch on your linea alba. A couple of easy cues is to think rib cage stacking over pelvis. Pelvic bowl in neutral and hips over ankles.

Watch this video on how to maintain good posture during pregnancy

success stories

Avoid Excessive Extension of Lumbar Spine

In pregnancy it’s easy to overstretch or over extend through your lumbar spine. You might feel this in Yoga or even just when you are standing. It is easy during pregnancy to compress your lower spine and over-arch your back. The second picture above shows the way that over-extending your spine in simple yoga poses can leading to ‘coning’ which can further weaken the linea alba.

success storiesMaintain the connection between your rib cage and pelvis when you are exercising, practicing yoga, lifting weights above your head or picking up toddlers. I like to think ‘ribs down’ and core lightly engaged.

success storiesCreate mobility through your shoulders and rib cage.

success storiesIf you do arm circles and you whole rib cage moves, you need to work on releasing your shoulders and chest. Moves such as thread the needle and book openings are great for this.

success storiesAvoid Strong Abdominal Exercises in Pregnancy.

The separation you can see in the first picture in this post is because I have increased the intra-abdominal pressure in my midsection to a point that my core can’t handle. In other words this crunch movement is too strong for my core to handle, so everything bulges through the weakest part. During pregnancy we want the sixpack muscles and obliques to lengthen and be able to slide and glide as you move and breath. Try to focus on connecting to your deeper core (TvA), pelvic floor, glutes and lower back to protect your whole core. I recommend focussing on quadruped exercises instead of planks, pelvic floor and glute exercises.

Try this complete Pelvic Floor Workout for Second and Third Trimester

Move Safely from Lying to Standing

Roll onto your side from second trimester onwards to get up from lying or out of bed. Use your arms and legs to help you to get up from seated and use your legs to help you lift anything heavy from the ground.

Diaphragmatic Breathing

Use all of your ribcage to breath. Try to draw your breath into the front, sides and back of your ribcage to reduce excess pressure on your belly and allow your diaphragm to move naturally.

Watch this video for tips on how to breath diaphragmatically during pregnancy.

success storiesIf you are concerned that you have stomach separation or the above didn’t make any sense to you – my biggest recommendation is to make an appointment with a Women’s Health Physio. They can show you under ultrasound how your core functions, test for separation safely and also show you how to engage and connect your pelvic floor.

I hope this post helps you to care for your core during pregnancy! Please reach out if you have any questions!

success storiesKimmy xx

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