What is it?
It is the abdominal separation where your left ab muscles have torn from the right side, leaving you a 'gap' in your core. It occurs to two thirds of pregnant women. Physio's usually measure the gap in cm's or finger width- Mine was 10cms after having the boys. (4 fingers) It can cause a 'bulge' in your core if not treated.
What causes it?
Predominantly caused in pregnancy, due to the uterus growing and stretching the muscles to tearing point. Women who are carrying babies with a large birth weight, multiples or multiple pregnancies in a short period are at greater risk of abdominal separation.
Whilst you cannot entirely prevent abdominal separation in pregnancy, there are a few factors which can assist your body. Correct nutrition, exercise like walking or pilates, and posture is essential whilst pregnant, the extra weight and the different in weight distribution whilst pregnant can significantly impact your abdominal strength. You can also use a core support belt, singlet and other support items to assist in this.
After doing SO much research into this topic, as this would have to be one of my TOP 5 asked questions, the only advice I can give is what has worked for me. So with that I will give you a little background before hand:
I gained 28 kilos in my first pregnancy, and had a 10p2o baby. I was left with a 10cm/4 finger gap. As soon as I had given birth, the hospital's physic came and saw me with information, exercises and explained the importance of these to me.
By the time I was allowed to do these exercises (post birth) I was already pregnant with baby #2 (Ryder) I gained 26 kilos, landing me in an even worse situation for my core. Ryder was 9p 8o. So two big babies a year apart did not do wonders for my core.
I worked really hard on the exercises given to me by the physio, and as we had moved interstate no longer had access to the physio who not only knew so much about the separation, but I found it SO difficult to find anyone else experienced with this. So, I did the exercises prescribed everyday, 2-3 times a day religiously and I would say my tear is completely healed, if not 1cm max.
Below I have attached a diagram of how I performed the exercises, as well as the prescription from the physio. Please go and see a physio if you have any concerns, as the sooner you start the more likely you will be to close the gap.
I hope this answers some of your questions! x