The dreaded ‘mummy tummy’ post pregnancy is something we hear a lot about. Many mothers have concerns in the aesthetics and/or function of their abdominal muscles after childbirth. It is important to get treatment for your abdominal separation (DRAM – diastasis of rectus abdominis muscle) in the early stages post partum to ensure you are provided with appropriate advice and exercise to help with your recovery.
So, what do we know about abdominal separation post childbirth?
- Rectus Diastasis is a stretching & thinning of the linea alba during pregnancy. This is the connective tissue that joins the rectus abdominis (6 pack) muscles together.
- A widening of greater than 2.7cm is considered- a medical diastasis of the rectus abdominus muscle.
- DRAM occurs due to hormonal elastic changes of the connective tissue, mechanical stresses placed on the abdominal wall by the growing baby and displacement of the abdominal organs.
- DRAM usually appears in the 2nd trimester of pregnancy and is found most frequently in the 3rd trimester.
- Natural resolution occurs between 1 day to 8 weeks after delivery, after which time recovery plateaus.
- In research trials, DRAM is generally diagnosed by measuring the distance between the inside borders of the rectus abdominis during an active contraction of the muscles (ie. lifting head & shoulders up – small crunch movement).
- There is currently no evidence to suggest that any of the following variables are risk factors for DRAM: age, height, mean weight before pregnancy, weight gain during pregnancy, delivery mode, baby’s birth weight, benign joint hypermobility syndrome, heavy lifting, and level of abdominal and pelvic floor muscle exercise training and general exercise training 12 months post-partum.
- Women with DRAM are not any more likely to have low back pain, urinary incontinence or pelvic organ prolapse.
- Current evidence suggests that non-specific exercise may or may not help to prevent or reduce DRAM during the ante- and postnatal periods.
If you think you may have developed an abdominal separation it is best to get it checked by one of our physiotherapists. Gill and Alison both have a special interest in the area of Women’s Health. Call 55047000 to find out more.