You may or may not have heard of abdominal separation and you may or may not have been assessed for separation before you left the hospital or at your six week check-up after you had your baby. You may be told your separation is normal and will heal automatically. However, anecdotal evidence shows us that is often not the case. Addressing your separation with an individualised exercise program, with or without some compression binding, as soon as possible is crucial to the healing of the separation.
Abdominal separation occurs when the connective tissue, the linea alba, running down the middle of your abdominal wall, that joins all of the abdominal wall muscles starts to tear. The two sides of your rectus abdominus are forced apart due to their inability to stretch anymore and provide any more space for your growing baby. When this happens, the area of connective tissue will then start to give and separate, allowing your baby more room to grow.
Some women have very little or no abdominal separation at all. It is very normal to have around two fingers of separation, and in more severe cases I have seen four fingers and more. We also now know that it is important to assess both the depth as well as the width of separation – when the separation is deep and you can feel no floor to your abdominals you are at a higher risk of a herniation of your organs through your abdominal wall.
Whether you have abdominal separation or not you are ‘normal’, the problem being that normal in the postnatal stage is not the same as ‘normal pre-pregnancy’ and many women can do themselves damage by simply returning to their previous exercise routine because they don’t know any different. This is not wrong as you don’t know what you don’t know but taking the time to learn about what things you need to do differently for a while will, in my opinion set you on track to do all of those ‘normal’ things you used to do prior to becoming a mum.
Our MumSafe training sessions teach about abdominal separation and also check to see if you have any.
Mum-focused author, educator and business owner, Jen Dugard is on a mission to ensure every woman is safely and effectively looked after when she becomes a mother. She is a highly qualified trainer and fitness professional educator and has been specialising in working with mums for over a decade. MumSafe is the go-to place online for women to find mum-focused fitness services that are all accredited, experienced and partnered with women’s health physios so you know you are in very safe hands.