Exciting News for New Mamas!
Postnatal belly binders originating from Malaysia are now available in a modern, super easy and comfortable version for the UK market, meaning you don’t have to wait forever for a costly delivery from the US.
Why are these binders so special?
They are recommended by the founder of The Gentle Birth Project and a real expert in the field of postpartum health – Carolyne Anthony.
This modern version of the traditional Malaysian Binder is designed to help the new mother recover after the birth, both vaginal and C-section, and to support the abdomen during the recovery period.
The velcro straps make it convenient to wear and provide a firm support without compression from the ribcage to below the hips. Each binder is made from 100% cotton and is suitable to wear all day long.
Why should you wear a belly binder?
- Support your belly, waist and hips
- Brings comfort after c- section by tightening the layers of fascia and tissues that have been cut through
- It provides stability to core muscles weakened during pregnancy (especially helpful if you have and abdominal separation, also called Diastasis Recti)
- Helps you get back to your daily activities more quickly! There is research-based evidence that women who wore abdominal support in the postpartum period reported decreased level of pain and were able to get out of bed quicker and walk more comfortably
- Eliminates or minimises back pain by bringing core muscles together and providing stability and support
- Encourages better posture, which is especially important during breastfeeding
When should you start wearing it?
The belly binder based on Malaysian tradition should be wore from day 2-44 days post-delivery. Most the current medical professionals allow you to wear it the next day following the vaginal delivery and c–section delivery, however fresh air is desired for faster wound healing; the intervals in between should be allowed for at least few hours. This is why the breathable material of the binders is very important!
Most importantly the postpartum body of every woman needs to be given as much rest as possible and the binder is there to provide you support and alignment to your body.
WHY DOES THIS BINDER STAND OUT (as reported by mamas)?
It is made out of 100% cotton so its fully breathable and feels a lot nicer to the skin/ scar especially in the summer months.
The length is perfect to coax everything back towards the midline. It wraps around the SI joints /pubic symphysis in addition to the torso.
Very easy to use and allows the flexibility while breastfeeding a baby. Most importantly the firmness and hold of the binder is just right, as most binders tend to be too tight for the torso.
Your dedicated postnatal massage therapist Kamila Kolesnik who runs her Mama Bloom Studio in Hemel Hempstead can help you with releasing the diaphragm and softening the area below sternum. The traditional womb support massage is conducted by using the herbal warm compress.
These amazing belly binders are available to purchase at: www.mamabloommedispa.com
For further information and instructions call 07753262819
Breathing Exercises for Diastasis Recti
Did you know that your breath affects your core function? And if your breathing patterns are a bit ‘up in the air’ after pregnancy it could be making your abdominal separation (technically known as Diastasis Recti) worse. We take around 20,000 breaths EVERY SINGLE DAY so it does make sense that how we breathe matters.
In this blog post, I’m going to talk about our breath and how to apply the right techniques when doing breathing exercises for Diastasis Recti.
Our Breath During Pregnancy
When we inhale, our breath should move through the entire canister of our torso. It should move down to the pelvic floor, into the belly and (importantly) into the whole of the ribcage for what is sometimes called a 360 breath, ie. we are using 360 degrees of the ribs as opposed to just the front half (and sometimes none at all!). When we are pregnant, our whole breathing pattern has to change because someone is in the way! The lack of space, possible tension around the ribcage and the fact the ribcage often shifts position entirely to make space for the baby. This can mean that the breath patterns become a bit dysfunctional, which can be a factor in Diastasis Recti developing.
When we inhale into our belly we create intra-abdominal pressure. Intra-abdominal pressure is the pressure within the abdominal cavity. Intra-abdominal pressure (IAP) changes depending on your breath and the level of load being placed on your abdominals. When we create too much IAP for our body, it creates a feeling of ‘bulging’ ie the abdominals push outwards or the pelvic floor bears down. Daily activities such as breathing and moving from sitting to standing create IAP so it is important to understand it, learn to control it and make sure you aren’t creating too much for your body. If you can’t control the intra-abdominal pressure it can cause Diastasis Recti to develop. This can happen during pregnancy and the postnatal period but Diastasis Recti isn’t exclusive to these times. It can develop so anyone who doesn’t have the right balance in their torso.
When we ‘belly breathe’ all day every day, we create an excess of IAP so it is important to try and create a sense of balance within our breathing patterns to reduce the IAP we are creating. We take around 20,000 breaths every day and therefore changing your breathing patterns can have a huge impact on managing Diastasis Recti.
What to do if you need to correct your breathing:
Go and see a Women’s Health Osteopath
They can manually release tension around the ribcage / abdominals / neck / shoulders anywhere else that might be restricting your breathing patterns. This kind of release work can be very helpful for addressing Diastasis Recti as fascial restrictions can be a factor. If you are in St Albans, Jo Day at Herts Osteopathy is excellent.
Be more aware of your breathing
The first step to changing a movement pattern is awareness of it. It is virtually impossible to change what you can’t feel so just check in with your breath every day and see what you notice. If you notice that you are belly breathing, try to do some of the exercises below. They will help mobilise your ribcage and create more balance through your torso.
Look at your posture
It is very difficult to breath optimally when your posture is getting in the way. When everything is stacked in alignment, it allows you to breathe into the ribcage as you should do. Poor posture can have a huge impact on the breath. Try rounding forwards and then take a deep breath into your whole diaphragm. It’s basically impossible right?! If you sit/stand up straighter and align your head over your ribcage and your ribcage over your pelvis you will be able to get a much fuller breath. This will allow your core to function better and allow your Diastasis to heal more easily.
Consider your stress levels
Becoming a parent is wonderful but also very stressful for many people. The lack of sleep alone can be enough to cause high levels of stress. Stress and anxiety have an impact on your breathing patterns. Poor breathing mechanics can increase your levels of stress and anxiety so it is a vicious circle. Stress also impacts your healing so your Diastasis Recti make take longer to recover when you are struggling to manage your stress. Look at what you can do to reduce your stress levels; get a cleaner, start a daily breathing or meditation practice or go to bed earlier.
Mobilise your ribcage
By stretching and releasing the ribcage it will allow your breath to flow more easily into the area. Tension around the ribs and back can prevent the abdominal muscles from drawing back together so this work is very important for anyone with a Diastasis. These exercises are taken from our Your Core Matters online course for pelvic floor health and they are suitable to do during pregnancy, in the early postnatal phase and way beyond to help reestablish your breathing patterns.
Make sure you have a doctor’s permission to exercise before doing any online exercise videos. With all of our online programmes we fully screen you before you join. Don’t do anything that doesn’t feel good and contact us with any questions.
Diastasis Recti Recovery: How long will it take?
So many clients attending our specialist postnatal classes have concerns about Diastasis Recti, or abdominal separation. The great news is that, whether you are 6-weeks or 6-years postnatal, any uncomfortable abdominal separation can be improved and often closed entirely.
One of the big questions we are asked is:
‘HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE?!!’
And unfortunately, there really is no hard and fast rule for this. Every body is different and every person has a different level of time that they are able to commit to working on their abdominal separation.
We’ve seen clients many years postnatal, who were able to commit to doing exercises every day, make huge changes in just 6 weeks; sometimes closing the gap entirely and sometimes closing the gap some of the way but, equally importantly, changing the quality of the fascia in the middle.
Other previous clients that could only commit to one weekly class, were also super aware of their posture and how to use their breath outside of this class and they made huge changes in a 12-week period.
Although we really can’t estimate a time frame, it’s important to realise that it will take a minimum of 6 weeks before you start to see any changes, and some people never manage to close the gap entirely. There are so many factors that can affect your recovery. From your connective tissue and hypermobility to your body awareness and posture, but after over 10 years working with this condition, and thanks to the amazing work of The Center Method for Diastasis Recti Recovery, we are very confident that huge changes can be made.
Here’s an example of the steps we would recommend throughout your recovery:
Address your nutrition
This really isn’t about weight loss. It’s about using food to help you heal. If your stomach is constantly bloated due to excess sugar, alcohol, wheat, dairy and caffeine, it can be much more difficult to prevent the surrounding muscles from bulging out.
This kind of food and drink will also slow down your healing. But rather than needing to cut ALL of these things out of your diet, it can be helpful to be mindful of how your body responds to different foods. For example, whilst toast for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch and pasta for dinner might be more wheat than your body needs, it doesn’t mean you need to go entirely wheat-free.
Consider whether you can cut down to only one cup of coffee in the morning or reduce your evening wine intake.
There are also foods that will actually help your fascia to heal – protein is one of the building blocks to rebuilding tissue. If you can make sure you eat protein at every meal, this will go a long way to improving your body’s response to any exercises you are doing. Eggs, chicken and bone broth are all great foods for this. It is also a good idea to eat salmon and avocado for good fats, and leafy greens, berries, nuts and seeds for high levels of healing vitamins.
Collagen is 70% water so when you are dehydrated your tissues aren’t able to function at their best. Abdominal separation is a fascial issue – this means the separation is deeply affected by the quality of your fascia. The more hydrated your fascia is, the better it will function. So, increasing your water intake is a great idea.
Learn to relax
Abdominal separation is often spoken about as the result of a lack of strength in your abdominal area, and this isn’t necessarily the case. Your muscles can often separate as a result of tension in the back, side or front of the body. It can be really helpful to teach your body to fully relax. Stress will also have an impact on how your fascia functions, so it is really important to find ways to relax and reduce your stress levels.
Release the fascia
As mentioned above, releasing your connective tissue can have a huge impact on your abdominal function. Scars can cause restrictions in the fascia, so if you do have scarring it is a good idea to see a ScarWork therapist to get this restriction released.
Take a look at https://restoretherapy.co.uk/ for more information.
All kinds of body work such as massage, osteopathy and women’s health physiotherapy can be used to help address fascial restrictions that you may be holding onto. We’ll do lots of work to address this in Pilates, but the help of a professional’s hands can really speed up the process. In Pilates, we use gentle mobility work, myofascial release and stretching to encourage your fascia to let go of tension and function more effectively.
Realign your posture
Posture can actually be the root cause of a Diastasis in the first place. When your pelvis or ribcage are out of alignment, the pressure on your abdominals increases and, with it, the chance that the abdominal muscles will not be able to cope with the load. When your bones are well aligned, your muscles and fascia can function more efficiently and this can help a Diastasis to heal.
Work on the breath
We take around 16,000 breaths EVERY SINGLE DAY. So, it makes complete sense that how you breathe really matters! Your breathing patterns are crucial to healing your core function.
It is very important to work on creating a sense of balance through the torso as you breathe. When you inhale into your belly, you stretch and increase the pressure on your abdominal muscles. Instead, your breath should move down into your pelvis, into your abdominals and into the whole of your ribcage so that the pressure created is balanced and not pushing into one area.
Why not try our breathing exercises for Diastasis Recti in this post and video.
Restore the fascia
Finally, we reach the part that everyone associates with Diastasis Recti Recovery – strengthening! By slowly strengthening your muscles from the inside out, you can gradually restore the function of both your fascia and your abdominal muscles. The aim is to get your abdominals working with your breath and create a sense of support for your core. You need to learn how to engage the whole of your abdominal wall rather than gripping and tensing in certain places, this will help your separation to reduce.
Consider Your Movement Patterns
Another important thing to remember, is that it doesn’t matter how much you are ‘doing your exercises’ if you aren’t considering how you use your body for the other 23 hours in the day. Addressing your posture will help here, but you should also consider when you are creating unnecessary pressure on your abdominals throughout the day and aim to lessen this impact on your body.
When you exhale efficiently, you reduce the pressure on your abdominal wall. By learning to exhale when exerting pressure on your core – for example, when picking up your baby – you can help to reduce the pressure you are creating with your day-to-day exertions.
Other small changes that you should aim to put into place are:
When getting in and out of bed – roll onto your side rather than sitting up in one big motion.
When picking up a heavy object like a car seat – avoid loaded rotation, i.e. twisting when you lift.
When holding heavy objects – try to hold them close to your centre of gravity.
When picking something up from the ground – squat instead of bending, inhale as you go down, exhale as you come up.
These daily changes can make as much difference as doing your exercises, so don’t be disheartened if you struggle to fit everything into every day, you can aid your recovery simply by considering the way you move.