With my last pregnancy my abdominal muscles split, but fortunately they came back together a wee while after birth. But I'm worried about it happening again and not closing up again postpartum. Does anyone have any tips or advice for preventing it from happening in this pregnancy?
Preventing Diastasis Recti?
While you may not be able to fully prevent a diastasis in this pregnancy, you can do exercises to strength your Transverse Abdominis, (TvA) to lessen the severity. This is our body's internal "girdle" which when contracted, compresses the abdominal wall.
Abdominal compressions (Baby Hugs) which isolate and strengthen the TvA, can be done seated, standing, or side lying. Abdominal compressions with pelvic tilt (Baby Lifts), safely strengthen all four layers of the abdominal wall, can be done either standing or on a physioball. Both of these exercises are safe to do throughout pregnancy. Women with diastasis can also add manual splinting (with the hands) of the mid line to assist the TvA.
As an added benefit, because the TvA is our primary, voluntary expulsion muscle, these exercises also help prepare the body for the pushing phase of labor.
Women with, or at risk for diastasis should not perform ANY exercises that roll the upper body off the floor, or against the force of gravity, or that twist the spine. No crunches, oblique curls, planks, roll ups, rolls downs, most Pilates mat work, many yoga asanas. Do not do yogic "belly breathing", or other moves that intentionally expand the belly.
To protect your mid line, always use the "log roll" technique when rising from the floor or getting out of bed. Google my screen name for more info.