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Yoga and Pilates are two of the most popular exercise options for pre and post pregnant women.
Pilates is promoted as the safest and most effective way to increase your core strength. However, instructors experience and knowledge varies quite considerably as does the training to become a Pilates instructor. If they get you to do any of the exercises below then you can be assured that your instructor actually knows very little about this condition!
Anne who had almost healed her DR went overseas and found what she thought was a suitable Pilates class in Italy; her instructor had ensured her everything was safe to do. I have had numerous clients who after a year or more of postnatal Pilates couldn’t figure out why they still had a DR but as soon as they stopped the wrong exercises and went back to basics, healing occurred! During the later stages of your pregnancy the outer abdominal muscles, rectus abdominis, will have very likely separated due to the growth of baby. Pilates generally focuses on maintaining a neutral spine position during most of their exercises, but this knowledge alone won’t save you from making a separation worse.
Have a look at some of the images below, if you find yourself nodding in agreement because you have felt increased pressure around your navel or even pain in your lower back while doing them then you need to stop doing that exercise.
It is essential that you start with exercises that activate the lower abdominals ( Transverse abdominus (TVA ), and pelvic floor muscles).

Any exercise that you do at the gym, on the reformer or in the yoga studio, if you look down at your navel and it is sticking out or your stomach is bulging, it is an exercise that you need to avoid. This post pregnancy period should be considered as a rehabilitation phase that can take up to 6 months or more in order for the lower abs to regain strength and the outer rectus abs to heal. Yoga: Yoga is generally a great exercise to help women prepare for birth but there are a few poses that you do need to avoid.
Further Reading Diastasis Information Section Webinar: 55mins- Everything you need to know about Diastasis!
Anne, although very hesitant still did the recommended exercises and soon ended up with her DR increasing!
At this stage it is important that you don’t add to the pressure on your rectus abdominus by doing exercises that force you to push your growing belly forwards through excessive arching (extending) through the lower back. Exercises where you sit or lie on the floor with a flexed spine like V sits, Dead bug’s or any Crunch type movement that changes the shape of your bump into a cone shape and bulge your belly button out. So if your instructor doesn’t know what Diastasis recti is then you need to find one that does.
If you know you have a DR then you need to stay away from doing advanced exercises that require a well developed core strength.

These muscles work like a corset drawing the abdominals in and encouraging the rectus abdominals to come together and heal.
The exercises I use focus on regaining lower ab activation first to promote healing and then progressing gradually to more advanced exercises. There are many different types of this ancient exercise so use this guide and the above advice and apply it to your yoga sessions. The information included in this article has been written by Lorraine Scapens: She is not able to provide you with medical advice, information is used as guide. You cannot hold Lorraine liable in any way for any injuries that may occur whilst training.

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