If you have never heard what diastasic recti is, then here’s a quick summary. It’s basically ab separation that can occur during pregnancy - so that post-baby belly pooch may not be those extra kilos of yours. The "six-pack muscles” run vertically down each side of your abdomen and hold in your internal organs and stabilize your core. As your belly expands during pregnancy, the connective tissue gets stretched out, allowing the muscles aka rectus abdominis to pull apart and separate vertically down the middle. In some cases the tissue heals, and the muscles come back together, but if this doesn't happen in 3-6 months, you can end up with diastasic recti - a gap that won't close without treatment/action.
Studies show that about 40% of women have a diastasis at six months postpartum.
That’s pretty crazy, as I really hadn’t heard about it until a few years back and now I have a few girlfriends who also have diastasis recti. To find out if you have it, lie on your back, bend your knees with your feet on the floor and place. Press your fingers gently into your belly and then slowly lift your head, which will then cause your abs to contract. If you feel a gap of at least two finger widths between the muscles as they contract, you have a diastasis. A gap as wide as four or five fingers is considered severe. The separation may also be wider in different places. I tried to diagnose it also myself, but to be 100% sure I went to see a physician at Centro Mi Matrona Marbella (they offer a free evaluation after giving birth), who told me that I have a separation of 1cm, which is not severe, but it’s better to help it heal before starting hard core exercises in the gym. (It’s very important to avoid crunches and to get our of bed rolling on your side first and then getting up - which is something I had to do anyway after the c section).
How am I healing my Diastasis Recti?
Centro Mi Matrons offers classes that are perfect to help to heal diastasis recti - they’re called hipopresivos aka hypopressive or vacuum exercise classes that take place once a week for 8 weeks. Hypopressive abs by definition consist of generating a hypopression in the abdominal cavity. They consist of a combination of series of postures and a special respiration (apnea), to elevate and activate the diaphragm. On the one hand they elevate the visceral packet (utero-vagina, urethra-bladder, rectum and intestines), and on the other, thanks to a mechanism of reflex activation, they provoke a contraction of the abdominal muscles and the pelvic floor. The base of these breathing techniques, abdominal abduction, and reeducation of the posture, existed thousands of years ago and were practiced in yoga under the name Uddiyana Bandha.
I also started taking beginners pilates classes with Tracy at Yogazone Marbella, who is also aware of the condition and helps me to focus on the right exercises in the class so I don’t make it worse, but heal the gap. I have only just started, so I will make sure to keep you posted via Instagram and my blog. I wanted to write about this, hoping it will help someone who didn’t know about this condition yet or if you didn’t know where to go to heal it in Marbella. Also to show the real side of postpartum, since I usually don't post these photos with my belly on my social media! But I'm really proud of my body and I'm not in a hurry to make it go back to where it was before the baby. Slowly it will anyway because I'm determined and will do what it takes. If you want to share your experience or tips, feel free to comment below this post or email me!