On Wednesday I spoke about some of the modifications you can make to accommodate your growing belly, and mentioned foregoing certain yoga poses to help prevent diastasis recti prevention.
Experts say that you don’t develop DR as a result of pregnancy. The loads on your tissues were present before you began your nine-month journey. This means that whatever aches and pains or blind spots you were dealing with before pregnancy, now have a greater chance of being exposed and perhaps even exacerbated as the load you must carry increase week after week.
Here are my top tips to help avoid an abdominal separation:
- Stand up for yourself! Do you flare your ribs? See part one of Yoga Tune Up® for Mammahood to learn how to achieve impeccable posture and avoid tugging unnecessarily on your anterior tissues, from your rectus abdominus to your psoas.
- Breathe better – we take approximately 20,000 breaths a day; how many of those do you take consciously? If you’re a belly breather it’s time to re-organize your breathing to include more than diaphragm. Practice the Complete Yogic Breath – first breathing into the belly, then the ribcage – to optimize intra-abdominal pressure (and thus limit the stress over the two sides of your midline) and to give the muscles of your upper back, chest and ribcage (some of which are also breathing muscles) a much needed stretch.
- Bedside manners – Be mindful when getting in and out of bed: a good habit to adopt is first coming down or up onto your left side first, so you don’t strain your anterior abdominal wall unnecessarily.
- Got the bathroom blues? Are you constipated and straining every time you go? If you are, consider getting a Squatty Potty – or using books or yoga blocks – to elevate the feet and put your colon in a more optimal position to evacuate waste.
- Skip exercises that activate your rectus abdominis or require you to fight against gravity, including upper abdominal curls, static planks, and movement that create long levers with your arms and legs. I still love to do more dynamic movements such as Sidewinder (and it’s great to relieve my lower back and give me a good side stretch). It’s still a good idea to work your core, just pick your movements wisely. A smart start is to focus on your Transverse Abdominis. You can do this just by breathing. On an inhale, breathe into your belly, your ribcage (trying to expand the ribs 360 degrees) and on the exhale, get rid of the bubble of air you’ve created by wrapping yourself from the back to the front. Repeat several times. And then let it go – relax your abdomen completely and go about your day without straining to keep your belly in. (See more about the Contract/Relax breath here)
Watch this space for my last installment of Yoga Tune Up® for Mammahood, where I’ll address pelvic floor health, and enjoy a heavenly hip sequence.