What is a tummy gap (aka Diastasis Recti or Rectus Diastasis Abdominis (RDA))? A tummy gap occurs naturally in all women during pregnancy. Your ‘abs’ or ‘six pack’ muscles – officially called rectus abdominis – naturally relax apart to allow your bump to grow and give your baby room in the womb. The issue is not that it happens during the pregnancy, it’s what happens after the birth – did these muscles snap back into place or have they still not joined back up – a third of all mums have a tummy gap even 8 weeks after birth.
Who is at risk? Women more at risk of having a tummy gap are those who had twins, bigger babies or have stretch marks, although it can happen to anyone. One in three women have a tummy gap greater than two fingers wide.
Why does it matter? When you have a tummy gap it’s harder to regain core stability in the abdomen and pelvic area and this means you’re at greater risk of developing back pain, prolapse and urinary incontinence. If the gap is very big it can also affect breathing, bowel movements and cause other abdominal problems as well as affecting your general posture.
Do you have a tummy gap? Many mums are unaware they still have a tummy gap and go back to boot camp, pilates and cycling but this can make the gap worse and make your tummy bulge. To find out if you have a tummy gap try our self check assessment by following the easy steps below.
How to Self-Check Two weeks after the birth of your baby, lie flat and bend your knees up as if about to do a sit up. Place your fingers gently just above your tummy button and then lift your head and shoulders slightly as if starting a sit up but rest there. Check how many fingers you can fit in the gap between the muscles. Repeat the check each week and by 8 weeks the finger gap should be no more than 2 fingers wide. Until this point, no abdominal exercise like crunches/planks etc should be undertaken. Pelvic Floor exercises and deep tummy TVA work can be started.
Statistics: Over one third – 36% – of all women still have a tummy gap greater than 2 fingers eight weeks after giving birth. Of that third of women who still have a tummy gap, two thirds of those – 66% – will develop a pelvic related health issue. Get the gap checked !