Recently my husband said, “I know why you have that mamma gut.” I gave him a sideways look that said, without saying, “What about your own daddy gut?” He cautiously elaborated, “No, I don’t mean it like that…I heard this thing on a radio show. There’s a name for the mamma gut after you have a baby, but I don’t remember it. You should look it up. A lot of women have it.” At that point, I chuckled and replied, “You should look into it too.”
Although my husband intended to be helpful, the idea of a name for mamma gut nagged at me. I looked it up. It is a real thing that has a name: diastasis recti.
I am body positive and love my curves. It has taken me a while to be cool with them and embrace the jiggle in my wiggle. That said, I wish I had known about diastasis recti right after having my son five years ago. It’s not a topic that most moms are eager to talk about and support each other through. Maybe if I had known, I would have been gentler on myself and not hated my body so much. Admittedly, for two years post baby, I could not get my gut to stop flopping over my pants…pants that used to fit just fine before I had a baby.
I hate to exercise, but post-baby I sucked it up and gave it my best. I tried to get a beach body, sweated to the oldies, and had my transformation time with Jillian Michaels. I lost weight but not my pooch. I knew that targeting areas for loss was a “weight loss mistake” and decided that this mamma gut wasn’t going anywhere. What I did not know was that the exercises I was doing (planks, ab crunches, etc.) were actually not good and might be making my situation worse.
So what is diastasis recti anyway?
Keep in mind I am not a doctor, and often seek quick advice from Dr. Google. Diastasis recti is basically the separating of your abs after giving birth. More technically, it is when the two large parallel bands of muscles that meet in the middle of the abdomen separate.
You can give yourself a quick test to see if it is something affecting you:
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
- Relax your head and shoulders and place your fingers (palm facing you) just above your belly button.
- Lift your head and neck very slightly off the floor and press down with your fingertips.
- Avoid lifting your shoulders when you left your neck.
- As you lift your head and neck, you should feel the muscles close in around your fingers.
- Repeat the test in two other places: directly over the belly button and a couple of inches below.
- If you feel a gap, it could be diastasis recti.
- A diastasis recti gap is measured in finger widths.
- You are aiming for a 1-2 finger gap or less, but don’t panic if it’s much bigger right after having a baby. (If you are worried, ask a doctor.)
Rather than endless sets of crunches, planks, oblique twists, bicycle legs, etc., there are easy-going, gentle exercises for diastasis recti, like:
- the bridge pose
- pelvic tilts
- toe taps
- heel slides
I love these four new friends — they are the lazy, 10 minutes moves to help this mummy lose the tummy!
The original radio show that my hubs referenced can be found by clicking this link.