Abdominal weakness, weight gain and hormonal changes can cause muscle separation during pregnancy, this is known as Diastasis Recti
Once this is corrected lower back pain will improve as will posture and your ability to perform certain exercises. This will normally happen 6-8 weeks post-partum, after pregnancy the muscles will always lie slightly apart. We need to first strengthen the transverse abdominis as it plays a vital role in stabilising the spine and holding the abdominal wall flat. In pregnant ladies we have to assume that muscle separation may have started to occur after the first trimester therefore it is important to stop certain abdominal exercises like curl ups going into your second trimester.
How to check if you have Diastasis recti
Lay on the floor facing up with your knees bent and abdomen relaxed.
Place two fingers across the abdomen just below the umbilicus in the centre of the abdominals.
Gently press to feel between the two halves of muscle.
Inhale and draw the umbilicus towards the spine while gently raising your head and shoulders off the floor. Keep gentle pressure on the abdomen with your fingertips
Hold this position while breathing, you should be able to feel two bands of the rectus abdominis closing in on either side of your fingertips with the soft dip of the linea alba in the centre. If you ant feel this curl up a little more.
If the gap is wider than two fingers repeat the test with three fingers.
If the gap is less than two fingers once you can work through some low load TVA (Transverse abdominis) and rectus abdominis exercises you can progress to more demanding exercises such as half roll backs, reverse curls, abdominal curls and eventually oblique curls.
If the gap is wider than three fingers or more curl up exercises are not recommended as you could cause herniation. Suitable exercises are abdominal hollowing and pelvic tilts.
Exercises for the TVA can be initiated within 24 hours of giving birth (providing your midwife agrees), these include abdominal hollowing then a few days post-partum pelvic tilts can be introduced.
Progression of core re-conditioning
Pelvic floor/ Kegal exercises
Pelvic floor exercises with abdominal hollowing for TVA.
Pelvic floor exercises with abdominal hollowing while performing pelvic tilts