Posted on June 28th, 2011, by admin
The state of your abdominal muscles and the changes that they have to go through are of major concern during pregnancy and in the recovery period afterwards. To be able to accommodate the size of the pregnant uterus the abdominal muscles have to stretch by an incredible amount. This becomes particularly noticeable towards the end of the pregnancy when the navel becomes so stretched that it flattens out and stretch marks appear on the skin. However, if you look after these muscles at this time and after the birth they are capable of returning to their pre-pregnant state.
It is particularly important that these muscles have a healthy tone while you are pregnant because they are being called on to help support the weight of the uterus and baby. The closer the abdominals can hold the baby to your spine, the less forwards ‘pull’ there is on your spine, and the less your lumbar spine gets pulled out of shape. If your muscles are weak, the weight of the baby spills forwards, and pulls your lower back with it. It is often in second and subsequent pregnancies, where the muscles have not regained their former strength and are unable to support the baby snugly the into the body, that women start to suffer back problems.
To minimize damage to these muscles when they are already stretched to their limit, you are advised to avoid activities that further stretch and possibly damage them. Take extra care while lifting, a very common activity if you already have small children, and getting out of bed.
The recti muscles (the vertical ones) are under the most strain. They are separated into two halves which are joined at a central ‘seam line’ called the linea alba. In many women this is quite visible in later pregnancy when it n turns a darker colour. Sometimes this seam separates, either during pregnancy or in the labour, in much the same way as a seam in a garment get can come apart when put under too much stress. It is possible to rehabilitate this muscle once the baby has been born using specific exercises.
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