Getting back into shape after pregnancy is like clearing out your wardrobe. You know you should do it, you know you’ll feel better after doing it… but you just can’t find the time, energy, or rude-awakening-style motivation to do it. We have two words for you: Diastasis Recti. Sound scary? Like something that grows in a petri dish in the school science lab, or a flesh-eating insect from the depths of the jungle? If you’re pregnant or have recently had a baby (well done you), you might be blissfully unaware that you have Diastasis Recti. Well, don’t fret. While it can have serious consequences if left unmanaged, it’s not too hard to put things right. To find out more, we joined a post-natal fitness class with Anna Kwan from Tangram Wellness, and we left feeling more informed, more motivated, and a little more ‘put together’ in the belly region.
Although many of us have never heard of it, Diastasis Recti (DR) is a fairly common condition during and after pregnancy. It basically means that the two sides of the rectus abdominal muscles (your six pack – yes, we all have one!) have split apart down the centre line. It’s not caused by anything you’ve done wrong; it’s simply the effect of those lovely pregnancy hormones making things a little weaker in there. The split creates a gap of between two and five fingers in width, and can usually be checked by a doctor, a physiotherapist, an osteopath, or a trained fitness professional.
If you have DR, what do you do? You could do nothing, if you don’t mind an increased risk of chronic lower pack pain, pelvic floor dysfunction, and stress incontinence during high impact exercise. Or, the wise choice would be to strengthen your Transverse Abdominal (TA) muscle. This is where the lovely Anna comes in.
Anna holds post-natal classes in groups of up to eight mums, or private one-on-one sessions. She likes to keep class sizes quite small so she can carefully monitor and guide everyone, and we certainly felt the support in our class. Anna has a friendly and gentle manner, challenging you to push yourself without being bossy or intimidating (well, her super-fit bod is perhaps slightly intimidating, but hey, you can’t say she’s not motivating!). The one-hour class is slow-paced but definitely challenging. The combination of personal attention with the gentle pace ensures you focus on technique, which is the most important part. This is not ‘sweat and burn’, this is ‘rebuild’, which will come as a relief to many new mums who are just getting back into exercise.
Post-natal classes cost $35, or $290 for a 10-class pass. You can arrange a private session with Anna at your home, or gather a group together at a time that suits everyone. And if you need to bring bub along, that’s perfectly fine (and, just quietly, gives you a good reason to take a little break if you need to). The classes are suitable for mums at any point in their journey, whether it’s been eight weeks since giving birth, eight months, or even eight years, as the importance of strong abdominals never goes away. And, a little birdy told us a pre-natal class is also in the works!
5 things you may not know about Diastasis Recti, thanks to Anna Kwan:
- The splitting of the abdominal muscles is not as painful as it sounds. In fact, lots of mums have DR without even knowing!
- DR is often mistaken for a flabby mummy tummy that just won’t go away.
- A telltale sign of DR is a mottled effect down the midline of the belly. This is actually the connective tissue that has herniated through the gap between the muscles.
- Women carrying twins, extra large weight babies or second pregnancies may have worse DR due to the additional internal pressure.
- If DR is not managed, new mums can suffer from severe chronic lower back pain, pelvic floor dysfunction and stress incontinence due to high impact exercise or incorrect abdominal training postpartum.
Keen to try a class? Anna is kindly offering HoneyKids readers a discount on their first class: just mention HoneyKids when you book and you’ll pay only $15 (instead of the usual $35). You can reach Anna at: firstname.lastname@example.org. No more excuses!