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Help! How to close up my separated abdominals, it's been a year...

(24 Posts)
Flightputsonahat Mon 28-Jul-08 11:31:36

I've tried ignoring them but they aren't closing up by themselves and although I have been doing some of those all-fours pull-up things, they still look a long way apart and I fear my last pregnancy may have turned me into a permanent outy shock

I used to like my stomach, is there any hope? How long do exercises take to work and which are the best ones please?

Many, many thanks smile

bethoo Mon 28-Jul-08 11:33:34

if you have a gap in your abdominals you should not be doing any excercises using those muscles at all! doing excercises too early will cause the hole to get bigger. apart from surgery only waiting til it heals itself will help.

belgo Mon 28-Jul-08 11:35:24

Don't think you should be doing any exercises without seeing a physio therapist first - go to your GP and ask for a referrel.

Twitmonster Mon 28-Jul-08 11:48:40

After ds2 I was referred to a physio who told me to wear a support bandage [or corset] all day, and to do some really gentle exercises to bring said muscles back together.

Lie on your back and pull your tummy in, hold for the count of 10 and release. Do this 20 times [adjust as necessary]
Lie on your side and do the same.
Lie on your other side and repeat.

Do this as often as you can through the day. And breathe throughout the 'tummy in' bits.

Once you can lie on your back, raise your head and there is a gap of less than two fingers, you can progress to the more strenuous stomach exercises.

Bear in mind this was done in the first few weeks and for me the strenuous stomach exercises were the post natal ones you're told about.

StellaWasADiver Mon 28-Jul-08 12:02:24

Can I ask how you know there is a gap? I mean what do you look/feel for?

I have been wondering myself but I don't know how to tell. But 9 months on I do think my tummy looks worse than it should...

Flightputsonahat Mon 28-Jul-08 12:31:17

Thanks - I went to the GP about 6 months ago, and she said it was a normal gap and to keep doing exercises, but wasn't specific about which ones.
I have been doing the knees and hands on the floor, 'back like a table' thing where you pull in the muscles gently and release - been doing a hundred at a time, most days since a couple of weeks ago. Before that I didn't do much as I thought they would just close up themselves if I left them, but they didn't so I got worried!

I'm just hoping it is the right kind of exercise and wondering when it might start to work...

Flightputsonahat Mon 28-Jul-08 12:32:55

Twitmonster that sounds good, I will try those as well. Last time it did take a couple of years really I think. I suppose I forgot about that when I decided to have anther baby!

ThePettyandIllinformedGoat Mon 28-Jul-08 12:34:44

worth seeing a physio so she can check you are going them right.

morningpaper Mon 28-Jul-08 12:35:49

My woman's physio smiled sympathetically and said only surgery will fix it

So bad that it is knackered

But at least I dont' have to do any exercises

Niecie Mon 28-Jul-08 12:39:06

I would go back to the doctors. I know two people who have had the same problem but have been told that if your muscles are too far apart, only surgery will help. Unfortunately, I don't think the NHS can provide this as it is deemed cosmetic but I am not sure on that.

I would suggest going to the doctors to find out if yours are as bad and if not, ask the doctor to be more specific about what exactly you are required to do.

squiffy Mon 28-Jul-08 13:11:57

I had the same and got fairly unanimous agreement(2 GP's and personal trainer) that stomach exercises make the problem worse. If your muscles don't reattach themselves naturally after birth then they never will. Exercise will make the muscles move apart from each other rather than together so will make it look worse.

Unfortunately, for many of us a tummy tuck is the only solution.

Fortunately, life is too short to bother and spandex pants do a pretty good job IME.

PetitFilou1 Mon 28-Jul-08 13:48:14

I've got a book called 'How to lose your Mummy Tummy' (cheesy American title) - am still pregnant with no3 at the moment though so haven't used it. Author says pilates makes diastasis worse and so do ordinary stomach crunches/sit ups.

For what it is worth, I still had 1 fingers separation when my dd was 18 months old - physio said that was not unusual. I think it can take up to 2 years for your muscles to knit back together. Mine are probably now completely screwed as have had 19 month age gap and am currently 8 months pregnant with no3.

hatcam Mon 28-Jul-08 14:20:12

Try and get referral to physio from your doctor - there are exercises that will help strengthen the muscles and close the gap, but you need a proper assessment to see how much separation there is.

Traditional abs exercises, twisting work and sitting up from lying without using your arms will all make it worse, so avoid them like the plague for now. While you're waiting for any help from the GP, you should try and engage your muscles all the time - lifting/pushing a pushchair etc try and bring your tummy button in towards your spine (without lifting your shoulders), as if you're 'bracing' your tummy muscles. With a small degree of separation, and no active use of your tummy muscles you risk putting your back out especially lifting babies that quickly go from tiddlers to being heavyweights!

It's not really like a 'hole' in the muscles, the fibrous tissue that holds the two sides of the rectus abdominus (six pack)together thins and stretches to allow room for the baby. It takes both time to heal and correct exercises. Occasionally people do get an actual gap between the muscles which can cause a hernia, which is operated on routinely by the NHS. You'll certainly be able to get physio on the NHS in any event.

The tummy button to spine technique won't make the separation any worse but sadly you won't see any results for about 6 weeks, you really need to stick with it. Wish I had a magic wand, sorry!

To self assess the gap in your muscles:

Lie on your back, knees bent up, feet flat on the floor.
Place two fingers just above your belly button.
Raise head, neck and shoulders just off the floor to gently engage stomach muscles.
You should feel the two sides of the muscles squeeze on to your fingers. 1-2 finger widths is perfectly normal.

Good luck with the doc, don't worry it's very very common and perfectly treatable with the right exercises and if you have a hernia, they'll fix you up no prob.

Flightputsonahat Mon 28-Jul-08 14:44:39

Hatcam, that is a brilliant post - are you a professional? smile

I tried the thing and there is at least one finger width, you can push both fingertips into the gap if you push hard but not straight off, so that is a relief...I might be verging on normal grin

I'm going to ask to be referred I think. That way I'll know if there is a hernia or not. My belly button sticks out and can be pushed back in, which is really odd. It was always such a neat little inny and I look at it and cry these days!

Might just have to have 5 more children and then I won't care. I will feel justified. grin

KezzaG Mon 28-Jul-08 14:56:54

I had this and my stomach just stuck out no matter how much weight I lost. My GP said there wasnt a lot I could do so I started doing pilates and the results have been amazing. It is based around breathing and puling in the stomach muscles while doing various other things ie pulling legs up etc. My teacher told me that normal crunches would just make the problem worse but for the first time in about 2 years my stomach is now the right side of my boobs, my back doesnt ache and I actualy thing I might look ok one day! It took about 4 weeks to make a real difference and the more I do the better it gets.

Flightputsonahat Mon 28-Jul-08 15:13:18

Ooh! My friend does pilates, I am going to collar her and ask if I can come. If she still goes that is! smile

Flightputsonahat Mon 28-Jul-08 15:13:52

I have the same thing Kez, I've lost weight, am probably under 9st and 5ft 7 now but still have this little bulgy bit.

KezzaG Mon 28-Jul-08 16:14:29

Good luck with it, I recommend it to everyone I am so pleased with the results.

shrinkingsagpuss Mon 28-Jul-08 16:17:48

I've been having physio for 6 months now - and whilst I'm still depressed as hell, the physio says my tummy is really coming bck together.

It is worth it. even if you are not worried about the cosmetic effect - having weak stomach muscles means you have a weak back - and I also have weak hips and base of spine as a rsult of pregnancy - so have excercises to do for that to.

nothing will make the skin go back, but my tummy should get better (ish....)

greenlawn Mon 28-Jul-08 17:02:27

I had a hand-width separation - quite bad apparently - and it closed up after physio - but it took months. Didn't find out about my problems till I had dreadful back problems. The physio said it will always be vulnerable to separating again and I'll have to do the exercises for life. Now expecting no.4 and I can feel it separating again, but at least I know it can go back with work.

You need special exercises - try googling the Tupler Technique - they are very similar to the ones I did with the physio. But be warned they are very hard work and take lots of commitment! Good luck!

Bluebutterfly Mon 28-Jul-08 17:09:10

I had the same as greenlawn and the phsio gave me a bunch of exercises to do (had to try to remember to do them at every available opportunity)

Pelvic tilts were recommended to me, but do not do sit-ups or anything that exercises the stomach muscles in their current position unless you have been shown how to squeeze the muscles together by a qualified physiotherapist:

"To help the muscle come back together, try the following exercises:

1. Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Place your hands on your abdomen with your fingertips pointing down toward your pubic bone. Exhale as you slowly lift your head (and shoulders, if you can) while pressing down and in with your fingers - that will urge the rectus back together.

2. Take a long towel and wrap it around your torso with the ends in front. As you perform a crunch, pull the ends of the towel towards each other in front of your belly button, which will also urge the muscle back together.

3. Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. As you exhale, slowly extend one leg along the floor, feeling your abdomen contract below your belly button. Inhale as you return to the starting position. Repeat with the other leg. "

from here

JRocks Mon 28-Jul-08 17:15:20

I had a similar thing, and can honestly say that pilates made a huge difference to me. And 6 weeks is about right, so not instant but not forever either. I hope you find a solution smile

hatcam Mon 28-Jul-08 20:17:00

flightputsonahat why personal trainer specialising in pre and post natal fitness, run Buggyfit in my area and I'm a total geek when it comes to bodies/anatomy/exercise!

don't let the doctor fob you off, they can be brilliantly helpful but also remarkably lacking in knowledge on this kind of thing.

if you have the 5 more babies, not only will you not care but every time you lie on the floor to check your tummy muscles you'll 1) most likely get severe injury from a piece of random plastic left there by offspring 2)lose the will to stay awake and pass out asleep 3)squish a random child. smile

Flightputsonahat Mon 28-Jul-08 20:20:46

Lolol!! grin Thanks again!

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