How do you really heal your separated abdominal muscles post birth?
Are you getting conflicting information about the best way to heal your Diastasis (stomach muscle separation) after the birth of your baby?
It is not unusual to get different opinions from friends and family but also from medical professionals.
It’s important to get the healing process started as soon as possible in order to regain Core function and strength. So let’s have a closer look at the 4 main options that are often suggested to women and see what really works. I will discuss the pros and cons of each one.
An old and ancient tradition of wrapping the stomach muscles to increase recovery and healing postpartum. There are now specific binders available that are more comfortable for women to wear and there are some that are suitable post a C-section.
Do they Work?
Using a belt/binder or wrap may work initially as it used to offer gentle support of the weakened core muscles. I often suggest to our members that high waisted exercises training pants are perfect for this and that a specific binder is not needed.
Following a C-section, more support can be required as a binder can reduce pain and help women move around much easier.
How Long Should you wear it for?
Women may benefit from a type of binding post birth but you only really need to bind if your Diastasis is large and deep and have been recommended to do so by a Specialist Physiotherapist or you have had a C-section. I strongly recommend wearing a specific binder asap post a C-section to aid recovery. You should wear the belt for approximately 3-4 weeks reducing the number of hours you wear it for each day over this time period.
The belts can feel awesome on as they offer support and most are now comfortable. Healing is improved and there is reduced pain following a C-section. Other benefits include assisting with shrinking the uterus, supporting internal organs the lower back and hip muscles, reducing diastasis.
Over wearing a binder can significantly reduce the strength of already weakened abdominal muscles. Women can learn to rely on the belt for support instead of contracting their own muscle belt.
How can good nutrition help heal a diastasis?
Poor nutrition along with excess weight gained during pregnancy will decrease how well the nervous system can connect with weak muscles in order to regain muscle strength. An increase in abdominal bloating caused by either a food intolerance or excess weight will also prevent adequate contracting of the muscles. Diet definitely needs to be addressed in order to heal your stomach muscles.
Does it work?
80% of how we look is related to the food we eat. So the food you have eaten during your pregnancy and what you are eating now will definitely affect your results.
If you know you are still 10kg over your pre pregnancy weight then some of that extra pregnancy weight is going to be sitting on your stomach. So it’s not rocket science that you are still going to have a mummy tummy if you are 10 kg overweight.
Good nutrition also helps to promote cellular and muscle tissue repair, helping to heal a diastasis.
Good nutrition postpartum will help return your body back to its pre-pregnancy weight, can reduce excess weight and abdominal bloating speeding up the recovery of your separated stomach muscles.
You need to be prepared and find time to make and eat it!
Exercise post-birth is essential for you to regain the strength and stability of your ‘core’. If you can’t contract weak core muscles then you are putting stress on the spine and hip joints which can lead to all manner of pain and discomfort. 39 weeks of being stretched as baby grows can have serious side effects. Diastasis recti is one consequence of the stretching and needs to be healed properly if you are to regain your core function and strength.
Does it Work?
Yes with specific postnatal exercises women can close a diastasis to optimal and regain core strength.
Correct rehabilitation exercises done soon after giving birth will help heal your diastasis, promote better posture, improve pelvic floor muscle function, and general well being.
Finding the time and also remembering how to do the exercises correctly may prove challenging. The wrong exercises like crunches and frontal planks will prevent and cause further separation.
Poor posture pre and post-pregnancy can increase diastasis and prevent it from healing.
If you go about your daily activities constantly sticking your abdominals out (Sway Back Posture) in the second photo, the muscles are not going to knit back together. Any benefits of your exercise program can be undone if you are not thinking about your posture.
Does it work?
Yes, thinking about your posture during the day will help heal your diastasis but this alone may not heal your separation.
It improves recovery and healing if following an exercise program and can reduce pain.
Holding good posture alone will not fix a diastasis.
What You Need to Do to Heal Your Mummy Tummy
The above all work together in helping you heal your separated abdominal muscles. You won’t see the results by just doing one.
- Binding certainly doesn’t work without contracting weak core muscles and activating your own natural muscle belt.
- Good posture can’t work by itself unless the muscles are strong enough to offer support to help correct alignment.
- The best nutrition won’t help strengthen weak core muscles.
- Exercise can be undone without thinking about the correct posture.
Following a combination of the above will ensure that you help heal your diastasis. Depending on the size and depth of your separation will affect how long it takes to heal.
Give yourself time to recover as it may take anywhere from 8 weeks to 9+ months to completely heal.
I would suggest you follow a specific postnatal exercise program to ensure you are following safe exercises that will promote recovery and healing. Have a look at the 12-week postnatal exercise and wellness program Birth2FitMum here on my website.
Why Babywearing may increase diastasis and Tip on how to Wear Baby Correctly
C-Section Binders: Abdomend.com.au
Everything you need to know about Diastasis Recti
Lorraine Scapens is the founder of https://pregnancyexercise.co.nz she has more than 20 years’ experience in the Fitness Industry. If you feel any pain or discomfort whilst exercising, stop. If pain continues consult you L.M.C or G.P. The information included in this article has been written by Lorraine Scapens: She is not able to provide you with medical advice, information is used as guide. You cannot hold Lorraine liable in any way for any injuries that may occur whilst training.