There seems a great lack of awareness and knowledge among health professionals and postnatal women about the impact that diastasis recti (‘split’ rectus abdominis muscle) has on women’s bodies. Many women arrive in my classes (Postnatal yoga, Prenatal yoga for second-time mums, Baby Massage & Nurture, Baby Yoga and Family Yoga) unaware that they have one and even unaware what diastasis recti is. It seems to be rarely checked. It also seems to have increased a great deal in the last two decades. Fitness exercises including some forms of dynamic yoga do not appear to aid in preventing DR and, on the contrary, they might contribute to it.
Please join us for this exciting and supportive opportunity to strengthen yourself after the birth of your child. To learn more about the Diastasis Recti read on or click below to sign up to Baby Nomad workshops now.
Diastasis Recti most commonly occur in the third trimester of first pregnancies. The linea alba, the line of connective tissue between the left and right packs of the rectus abdominis, does a great job of stretching longitudinally and to some extent laterally to accommodate the growing baby- and it is a big job to do as intra-abdominal pressure rises.
This tissue can thin and lose its springiness laterally often around the umbilicus, and above and below. Most often there is no actual split or tear as such. If there is a hole in the linea alba then the tissues beneath may poke through especially in a sit up- this is an epigastric hernia and it may require surgery, but this is rare. Common forms of Diastasis Recti can be successfully repaired with gentle therapeutic yoga using the breath together with relaxed stretches and gentle twists. With Birthlight Yoga we use an integrative approach that, following the principles of yoga and Ayurveda, “supports the supporting structures” around a problem area: lower back strength, pelvic floor tone and organ function are all improved while the Diastasis Recti is being repaired.I focus on the Do’s rather than on the Don’ts in prenatal and postnatal yoga and the same applies to therapeutic yoga. I offer a wide range of yoga-based simple practices, including new micro-movements, that are accessible to most women for use both “on and off” yoga mats, before and after childbirth. These micro-movements are based on an exploration of adaptations of Asanas (yoga poses) in light of recent anatomy and physiology research that goes beyond some received ideas about fitness and how muscle and connective tissue impairments are best repaired.
The greatest window of opportunity for assisting the closure of diastasis is during the first 6-8 weeks after birth as the practices work with the body’s own closing-after-birth processes but Yoga breathing practices, combined with postnatal micro-movements, work well if the new mum has not started activity/a fitness regime that does not respect the time needed to re-stabilise the pelvis, realign the spine, and re-tone the deepest abdominal muscle: this is the transverse abdominis (or “baby blanket”) that attaches to the back muscles on both sides and supports the rectus abdominis (the “baby hammock”). We need to reconnect to the breath after whatever happened during labour and birth. Using gentle extended exhalations, the pelvic floor naturally draws up and re-activates the fibres of the first pack of the six packs of the rectus, interwoven with the attachment of the transverse to the pubic bone. The base attachments of the transversus, rectus and both internal and external oblique abdominal muscles are the best “maternity belt” women can use for inner support. Then, with easy stretches, we can wake up again the fibres of the very top pack of the rectus, high in the rib cage over the thoracic diaphragm (it’s surprising how far this abdominal muscle reaches and how each breath we take affects it). Then, the middle packs are gently brought together as the top and bottom packs come more alive: easy does it with help from muscle friends all around… As Françoise (the founder of Birthlight) says, it is no good papering over the crack. If we ‘fill’ the hole first (the yoga breathing is like using polyfilla to get the fascia together again) then we do the proper lasting work of closing the body. It is well worth putting the time and effort in to recover on the deeper level for your long term heath and function before rushing into certain types of exercise.
Please take a look at the timetable page for this and other courses or contact me for more information.