Working the Transverse Abdominus After Childbirth

Working the Transverse Abdominus After ChildbirthDuring pregnancy, the three different layers of  abdominal muscles get stretched to accommodate the growing baby. The belly stretches during pregnancy and so do the muscles that cover it. These muscles are then held in a stretched position until the baby is born, and because of this might lose some strength and elasticity. For about one-third of all pregnant women, the ab muscles will actually split down the middle at some point during pregnancy, labor, or delivery, and lead to a condition called diastasis recti. This condition can lead to greater lower back pain, as the core muscles are not able to work as effectively.


What is Transverse Abdominus?

Along with the obliques and  the transverse, there are two sets of opposing diagonal muscles that wrap around the sides of the torso. There’s also a wide band of muscle that wraps horizontally like a cummerbund and attaches onto the back of the body. All of these muscles overlap each other to provide maximum coverage to the precious organs (and precious baby in utero!) beneath.  They need to be strengthened to create a support system for the lower back.

Exercises to overcome Diastasis Recti

  • Reverse Breathing – tones deep muscle layers of abdomen and spine. Post pregnancy, the aim of this exercise is to assist closing of the lower part of the body, pull the stretched muscles inwards and upwards, and strengthen them so they hold the spine, pelvis and abdominal organs in the correct alignment. Lie comfortably, spine supported. Place your hands on the lower abdomen. Breathe in deeply, imagining the energy of the breath being drawn up through the base of your body into the abdomen. As you breathe out, pull in your waist, drawing your navel up and closer to your spine at the back. Feel this out-breath continue to flow up into your chest, toning you powerfully from inside. Release at the end of the exhalation. The out-breath is stronger than the in-breath, but should never be forced. Either take a ‘resting breath’ in and out before inhaling and drawing up again, or repeat the Reverse Breathing without a pause.

  • Towel Assisted crunches - Take a long towel and wrap it around your torso with the ends in front and as you perform a crunch… Pull the ends of the towel towards each other in front of your belly button to help urge the muscle back together. Perform 2 sets of 10 reps (work up to 40 reps per day as you get stronger).

  • Working the Transverse Abdominus After ChildbirthCross leg sit ups - Lie on your back with knees bent and feet on the floor. Place your hands on your pelvic belly, below the navel. Breathe for a few minutes, without effort, feeling the belly rise and fall with each breath. Then cross the right thigh tightly over the left. As you keep the hips on the ground, draw both legs into your chest. Clasp your hands behind your head, exhale, and bring the head up. Keep the head and knees curled in toward one another for an entire set of eight abdominal crunches. Exhale to bring the knees in toward your chest and slightly to the left, while your head curls in and leans to the right. Inhale to release the knees and head away from one another. After two sets, change legs.

  • Wide-leg Circles - Lying on the back, with one leg raised and reaching through ball of foot, draw big circles with the leg while minimizing movement in the pelvis and back.


Points to Consider
  • Cut out processed foods, including sugar, try cutting out wheat & dairy as well for a few weeks.

  • Drink plenty of water & herbal teas to encourage digestion.

  • Eat plenty of fibre in the form of whole fruits & vegetables & wholegrain carbs such as wholegrain rice, quinoa, rye, oats & spelt.

  • Maintain proper posture, when you’re standing, your weight should be through your heels, not the balls of your feet. You should be able to lift your toes & your butt should curve out.

  • Avoid exercises where you’re lying on your back and lowering your legs (such as straight leg raises, dipping the toes, single leg stretches, the 100s).

  • Do not do any heavy lifting or yoga poses that stretch out your abs so for example… Avoid yoga poses like the cow pose, up-dog, all backbends…

Do not, do crunches or sit-ups post-baby,  if you have abdominal separation.

Dated 06 September 2012


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