When one decides to have a child, there are certain bodily changes you know will occur when you go into the process. And then there are others you don’t see coming that take some mental and physical strength to deal with after the fact. For singer Ciara, a mother of two (Future, 3, and Sienna, 12 months), she revealed that she’s dealt with abdominal separation after both of her pregnancies, and it hasn’t been easy. Still, she’s intent on building up her abdominal muscles once again.
“I have Diastastis Recti from both of my pregnancies, so I have to work extra hard to regain my core strength,” she wrote on Instagram this weekend. “Determined. Let’s Go Mammas!”
And when it comes to going hard, that includes integrating some sprinting and jogging into her workouts. The 32-year-old singer shared a video of herself on Sunday running in her picturesque neighborhood. It takes a strong core to be able to have good form, and in turn, be able to run for longer periods and distances.
As far as diastasis recti in general, here’s what you should know about the condition the star says she is dealing with:
- This condition is the overstretching of one’s linea alba, which is in between your rectus abdominis muscles. These “six-pack” muscles connected by the linea alba are the abs that everyone wants to see popping out during crop-top season, and they run vertically on the left and right side of your belly button. Too much pressure from giving birth can cause the linea alba to stretch out, creating a gap between your abdominal muscles. Some also describe it has having a pooch that protrudes out of the middle of the stomach.
- Studies have shown that diastasis recti is more common in women who’ve had multiple births due to repeated stretching, and at least 60 percent of women have it six weeks after giving birth, while 30 percent still have it a year after giving birth.
- Diastasis recti can actually affect anyone — not just new mothers. While it’s common in women who’ve given birth, it can occur in men and children as well. In the cases of newborns, it’s actually more common in Black babies, as well as premature ones, when their rectus abdominis muscles are not fully developed. For men, it can happen due to obesity, midline abdominal incisions for surgery, and even because of one’s posture and exercise habits, impacting the pressure on the abdomen.
- It’s also important to know that if you haven’t been building up your core ahead of pregnancy, trying to start when you’re pregnant can actually increase the likelihood of dealing with diastasis recti. Excessive ab exercises following the first trimester can put more pressure on abdominal muscles that are already starting to carry a full load with your growing child.
- As far as treatment goes, what every person needs can be different. For example, a child with diastasis recti may need surgery, especially if the condition starts causing them to be sick or have pain in their abdominal area. And while women see such separation decrease as the weeks go by after giving birth, for others, the linea alba remains stretched and it can cause pain, posture changes or just self-consciousness. For those who want to try everything but surgery (or abdominoplasty), certain exercises have been recommended to help regain core strength, and in some cases, reduce the separation. That includes moves like core contractions, squats, and other exercises that are meant to pull in the abdominal muscles — not push them out.
Whatever you choose to do to deal with such a condition, whether you increase the intensity of your exercises like Ciara to strengthen your abdominal muscles, or opt to do the work to embrace the way your body’s changed, many women can find comfort in the fact that they’re certainly not alone in having diastasis recti.