Today we will be focusing on postpartum health, and although it may not be super specific to you, this information may be of use one day, or you may know someone who would benefit from learning about it!
Here at Total Balance we have a very passionate women’s health team. They are incredibly invested in helping postpartum women return to feeling as close to their usual selves as possible. Having a baby is a huge adjustment, and regardless of whether you have delivered via caesarean section or vaginally, your body has just carried a baby for up to 9 months. It is a lot on your body!
Today we’re going to discuss abdominal separation: they why’s, they how’s, and why you shouldn’t be afraid if you are told you have one.
What is DRAM, aka abdominal separation.
DRAM stands for diastasis rectus abdominal muscle, and refers to the stretching and separating of the rectus abdominal muscles, away from a thick tendinous band in the middle of your stomach called the linea alba. Throughout pregnancy the uterus expands to accommodate for your growing bub, and this combined with hormonal changes leads to the linea alba softening and the distance between muscles growing. This is shown below.
Some signs during pregnancy that may indicate you are developing a separation are:
- Pain or stretching sensation in your abdominals, specifically in the midline along your tummy
- Discomfort in your abdominals after a longer day on your feet
- Bulging, doming, or ballooning of your abdominals when bearing down, or getting out of chairs, or going from a laying to sitting position
Abdominal separations are much more noticeable after the delivery of bubs, and these above symptoms may be more noticeable and may be accompanied with:
- The feeling of being unable to maintain good posture due to feeling weak through your abdominals
- A feeling of a gap along the midline of your stomach
So why shouldn’t you be afraid of an abdominal separation? Because abdominal separation is very common during, and after pregnancy. It is a known statistic, that every pregnant woman will have some degree of abdominal separation during pregnancy, it just differs in size and degree. The larger and deeper the separation, the more you will need to adjust activities, and be mindful when returning to normal activities or exercise post birth, but they’re not to be scared of. Ensuring you know what to look out for, and know how to manage activities when pregnant will help to prevent separation, or prevent your DRAM from getting worse.
What to do to prevent DRAM from occurring, or to prevent your current DRAM from getting worse
- Be mindful of how you are getting out of bed, and out of chairs. Not only is this important for your abdominal muscles, but also to prevent getting pelvic pain. You should be avoiding doing any crunch-type exercises or motions during pregnancy from as early as possible. Here is a great video where our osteopath Simmone demonstrates the best way to get out of bed when pregnant!
- Avoid excessive bearing down forces! It is very common during pregnancy to struggle with vomiting and constipation, and excessive bearing down pressures can lead to a disruption in the integrity of both your pelvic floor muscles, but also your abdominal muscles! Our top tips to avoid bearing down when passing a bowel motion are to elevate your feet so your knees are higher than your hips, relax your tummy, and breathe through the pushes. For more information, watch this youtube video where Sarah takes you through our top tips to combat constipation!
- Activity adjustments – at some stage of your pregnancy, you’re going to realise you have had to slow down and be careful with how active you’re being. Heavy lifting is going to get harder, so being mindful of how you’re lifting will help you to avoid abdominal separations. When lifting anything more than 5kgs, breathe out on exertion. What this does is avoid excess pressure being pushed out into your abdominals. If you have older kids at home, see if they can climb onto a chair and lift them from there instead of bending all the way to the ground – this will further help reduce pressure on your abdominal muscles!
- Compression garments can be a great way to help you feel supported through your tummy, and help reduce excess pressure being placed on your abdominal muscles. They can be worn all throughout pregnancy, and are especially beneficial postpartum to help encourage the muscles to start to knit back together
How long does an abdominal separation last?
This is such a common question we get asked, and the answer is it depends on the size of the separation. A smaller separation may return back to normal within the first 6 weeks postpartum. Bigger separations may take longer, and things like belly bands, or compression garments, along with being mindful of your activity levels will lead to a quicker recovery.
What to do from home to help encourage recovery?
Rehab and exercises for abdominal separation will depend on the degree of separation present. For smaller separations, the advice now is to get back into some gentle crunch-type exercises from 2 weeks postpartum. The advice for larger separations can be different however, which is why it is so important to check in with your pelvic health osteopath as soon as you feel comfortable to do so. This way we can provide you with specific advice and exercise prescription! Click the image below, to see one of our pelvic health osteopaths, Dr Loz Bonner, showing you some exercises for an abdominal separation. Remember, that these exercises may not be specific for you and the degree of your abdominal separation so please contact your pelvic health practitioner before attempting any of these exercises.
Have you recently had a baby, and want us to check the degree of abdominal separation you have? Please give us a call on (03) 9773 8085 so we can answer any questions you may have and to book you in with one of our pelvic health osteopaths!! Alternatively, click here to book an appointment online.
Have a great week!
Bec @ Total Balance Healthcare
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This blog post is an educational tool only. It is not a replacement for medical advice from a registered and qualified doctor or health professional.
Phone: (03) 9773 8085