Womens Health Week: Abdominal Separation

What is “Abdominal Separation” ?
A Diastasis Rectus Abdominus Muscle is often abbreviated to “DRA” or “DRAM”. It is a common presentation where the connective tissue between to the abdominal muscles is widened during pregnancy. This occurs to allow the belly to stretch and accomodate for the growing baby and uterus.
In many women it resolves without any intervention, but for some it can persist long after the postpartum period and has implications for their physical function and overall recovery after pregnancy.
What are the effects of having a DRAM?
The main concern with a persistent or large DRAM is it reduces abdominal muscle strength. For a new mum this can affect bending, sitting up, lifting their infant and completing many essential daily tasks at home. Furthermore, when ready to return to heavier or higher impact exercise, we need good abdominal muscle function to support the body. Feelings of weakness during exercise or difficulty to perform exercise might be an indication of an unresolved DRAM. 
Equally as important are the emotional and social wellbeing consequences of abdominal separation, that impact heavily on the quality of life of a new Mum and should not be ignored. 
How is it assessed?
A DRAM is often assessed immediately after birth on the maternity ward. For some women this is the only time it is checked and may not be properly followed up once leaving hospital. Fortunately, physiotherapists can assess for abdominal separation at any stage in the postpartum period, and even in the months and years following. It is a gentle and non-invasive method of assessment that is quick and easy to complete in a regular consultation. 
How can a Physiotherapist help?
Physiotherapists have an important role in the early postpartum period, as along with a GP or MCHN we often have the most contact with new Mothers. In addition to assessment of abdominal separation, a Women’s Health Physiotherapist or one that specialises in pre- and post-natal care, can provide the correct advice and exercises to assist in resolution of a DRAM. 
SRC Compression Garments
Part of the physiotherapy management may involve the prescription of compression garments. At 13th Beach Health Services we are very excited to soon be stocking SRC medical grade compression garments. These have been successfully utilised by expectant and new mothers to help with a range of issues including:
– Lumbopelvic pain
– Pelvic floor support
– DRAM
– Support following a natural delivery
– Cesarean section recovery
– Return to exercise

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Our Physiotherapist Briony has further knowledge and skills in the area of pre- and post-natal physiotherapy, including prescription of SRC compression garments. If you have any questions regarding this or another topic give us a call or book online for an appointment.

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