There’s no real “yes” or “no” answer to the question: “Can clients give themselves abdominal separation after birth?”, but in today’s post, I’m hoping to educate you, as a Fitness/Pilates Professional, with a little bit more about what abdominal separation is, and how certain movements, and indeed general habits of several new mums can actually cause abdominal separation, or indeed make it worse.
If this is the first time you’ve heard about Diastasis Recti (the technical term for abdominal separation), you may want to educate yourself more about the condition.
It’s important to point out that the abdominals don’t separate in every pregnancy, and please also note that there are many causes of abdominal distension (in both genders). Click here to read more about the top causes of abdominal separation. It’s a rather enlightening list, I think you’d agree. Again, feel free to share it or re-hash the info and feature it in your weekly newsletter.
Now, there’s one movement your new mums are more than likely performing several times a day which can either:
a) cause abdominal separation, or
b) make abdominal separation worse if it’s already present.
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock recently, we are aware as Pre/Postnatal Specialists, that sit ups AREN’T safe during the postnatal period. If your new mums are doing sit ups in an effort to tone their abdominals, it’s important that you advise them to stop immediately. These AREN’T suitable for postnatal women, so cease teaching them NOW!
Let’s do a little bit of thinking now. Not related to exercise at all, but how do you think your clients get out of bed? It’s the middle of the night, they shake themselves awake, move out of bed as quickly as they can and tend to your baby’s needs.
More than likely, your clients shift themselves up into a seated position via a sit up-type action. Am I right? Do you see them doing this in class too if you run mum and baby sessions where they come up to standing from lying on their back to tend to their baby?
If they are doing so, here’s a quick suggestion for them to change this habit, because:
a) it’s not safe for their weakened post-birth abdominals, and
b) it’ll make things worse if they have a diastasis of the abdominals already present.
How should you get out of bed correctly to avoid putting pressure on the abdominals?
Try this procedure here. Starting from lying on your back:
- Bend your legs
- Keep your knees together
- Engage your core/pelvic floor muscles
- Roll onto your side using your arms and core and keeping your knees narrow
- Place your hands under your shoulders and walk yourself up via your side
- Swing your legs over the side of your bed
- Engage your core/pelvic floor
- Push up to a standing position
My advice to new mums is to practise this procedure whenever they get out of bed and when they get back into bed to go to sleep, following it in reverse ie don’t lie back from a seated position either, because it’s like doing a sit up in reverse, isn’t it?
If a new mum’s baby is not a good sleeper, think of how many times their baby wakes up in the night, and then cast your mind over the number of incidences where they need sit up out of bed to go and tend to them? It’s likely to be several, isn’t it?
New mums perform a relentless role which requires them to perform actions relating to caring for their baby, often at speed.
Make sure in your classes that you demonstrate the dangers of doing movements out of habit, and the consequences of performing them long-term on their pelvic floor, back, weakened abdominals and posture too by following the checklist above
I hope that’s given you some food for thought there.