And it's ridiculous really. Because it is so very important.
It impacts on how your tummy looks post pregnancy and also helps prevent lower back problems in the future.
You NEED a Women's Health Physio to check how wide and how deep the separation between your tummy muscles is, 6 weeks after you have had your baby.
Depending on this, they will advise you on what exercises you should be doing to reduce this gap, when it is safe to return to exercise and what kind of exercises are best for you.
This separation is called a Rectus Abdominal Diastasis, and it's totally normal that it occurs.
Basically what happens while you are pregnant, is that the fascia (like sausage skin) between your rectus abdominal muscles (the '6 pack' muscles) widens and thins so that your tummy muscles can move apart to accommodate your baby growing inside of you.
After you have had your baby, the muscles need to come back together, before you can safely start exercising and to get your pre pregnancy shape back.
Otherwise what happens, is that each time you cough or do anything that increases the pressure in your abdomen, you get 'doming' which is basically your abdominal contents protruding through the gap.
This can lead to herniation.
I have seen ladies rush back to the gym straight after having a baby without having been properly informed or assessed, and they end up further widening this gap. Which is horrendous.
And the advice when you google post natal exercises is quite frankly shocking. I've seen Youtube videos recommending sit ups which only further widen your gap if it hasn't healed , it makes me feel ill.
Now the thing is, that you have a kind of 'golden period' in which to get these muscles back together whilst your hormones are all still settling back to your pre pregnancy levels. If you don't do so whilst you are still breastfeeding or within a few weeks/months after stopping, then it is soooo much more difficult to heal the gap.
Which is why ideally you should see your Physio at 6 weeks post delivery, as this is when the first big hormonal shift occurs, and is a great time to start.
But better late than never.
A few ladies are very lucky, and their muscles never fully separate. But you wouldn't know this for certain unless you were checked.
There a few things that can increase your risk for a significant diastasis too:
Being hyper mobile.
Having had multiple births.
At your 6 week check, your Physio will also check that you are doing your Pelvic Floor exercises. And may recommend scar massage techniques if you have had a caesarian section.
I like to do a baby assessment at these checks too.
I do a quick physical development check, assess your baby's head shape and see if they have a head turning preference, and advise accordingly.
I also remind Parents about the importance of doing tummy time, how to do it, and why crawling before walking is SO important.
Please let me know if you would like nay more information about this.
And please new Mum's and Mum's to be.
See a Women's Health Physio.
If you live in London, and would like me to assess you, email info (at) lulujayphysiotherapy.com
And friends and families of Mum's to be, please make sure they know about this...
Thanks to one of my dearest friends Em, for letting me use the gorgeous picture of her and little Jack above! I can't wait to meet him in December:)