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As soon as your belly starts getting bigger and you develop that famous "baby bump", your abdominal muscles will start moving out of the way to make space for your rapidly growing uterus. This separation of the abdominal muscles is called diastasis recti. It is very common during pregnancy, and most women will notice their abdominal muscles move out the way to make space for their baby at some point during the second or third trimester of pregnancy. A separation in the abdominal muscles is seen as a medical problem that needs to be corrected in normal circumstances, but it is something that is frequently encountered in pregnant women, as well as those who are in the postpartum period.

Diastasis recti is more likely to turn up in women who have given birth multiple times already, due to more frequent episodes of stretching. If your separated abdominal muscles do not move closer together again and then start closing within about six weeks after you have given birth to your baby, you may need physiotherapy to correct it. You can feel whether you have separated abdominal muscles by tensing up the muscles, and trying to put some fingers in the middle. Women with diastasis recti during the postpartum period will be clearly able to feel two definite "sides" to their abdominal muscles, with a cavity in the middle.

Keep in mind that doing ab crunches with diastasis recti is not advisable. Abdominal exercises might have the opposite effect to your muscles going back to normal which is presumably what you wanted and instead keep the muscles permanently separated. Talk to your healthcare provider before resuming work outs after you have had a baby. The six week postpartum checkup is a good time to ask questions.

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