mamalates blog

Diastasis Recti Assessment and Safe Core Postpartum Exercises October 05 2015, 0 Comments

Are you a fitness or birth professional that works with women?

Are you a fitness or birth professional that works with women? Did you know that even 20 years postpartum  a woman's abdominal muscles may still be separated and that certain exercises can make this condition worse?

Abdominal separation  ( diastasis recti) is when your linea alba, a band of connective tissue that connects you right and left side rectus muscles (six pack) splits or separates exposing inner organs. This can lead to chronic back pain, pelvic floor dysfunction and more.

This is caused by:
  • Misalignment/ collapsing through the spine
  • Growing uterus
  • Hypo or hyper tonic abdominal wall musculature ( over or under developed abdominals)
  • Superficial abdominal, core work during pregnancy
  • Improper bio mechanics and breathing
  • More
If you are a mom or a professional that works with women, certain exercises and movements are contraindicated if you have this condition as it can become worse if not treated..
Such as:
  • Belly breathing
  • Core exercises with legs at table top or out in a "V"
  • Lifting head off of the floor, Pilates Roll downs
  • Using heavy weights
  • Any forward folding

 If a woman is coming to you complaining of back pain the first thing you should do is check her abdominals for a diastasis recti- even if she is 20 years postpartum! It is important to asses from the zyphoid process to the belly button for separation and recognize that the separation can be shallow, medium or deep depending on how much of your finger can sink into the belly.

Here is Anne Rust of Baby Moon at a mamalates training Lexington.KY. learning how to assess an abdominal separation.

 If you are asking "How do I know if I have an abdominal separation or if my clients have one?" You can check out this video below for a self check and for a basic exercise to help close the gap and get yourself or your clients on the road to a healthier core!


VIDEO: How to check for an abdominal separation 

Look for more information on safe postpartum core exercises and an abdominal binding VIDEO in my next post!


Wendy Foster is the founder of mamalates and the master trainer for all mamalates licensing programs. An internationally certified Pilates instructor, pre/post fitness specialist, and birth recovery expert, Wendy has been teaching Pilates based restorative exercise since 1999 and practicing yoga for nearly two decades. She has a  practice in Southeast Portland, OR.  and offers her OB/GYN endorsed training around the country . To set up a training in your area or for any questions, contact her at or visit


7 Smart tips for your first postpartum run-When can I start running again after my baby is born? July 01 2014, 1 Comment

When can I start running postpartum? Maybe it's been a few weeks or a few months but you are now ready to attempt your first run after you've had your baby.

You were a big runner before the birth or maybe you weren't and your thinking "This is a great, quick way to get my exercise on, may help me sleep better and I can do it on my own time- PERFECT!"

Well, there are a few things to keep in mind before you go for that jog, exasperated sprint or marathon that will help you run more efficiently and recover more quickly. And, the best news of all? They all start with "S" so they will be easier for your postpartum brain to remember.

But, before we start with those, let's back up a bit.

First: Can you jump off a curb without any pelvic pain? Chiropractor Dr. Bryan of Clearwater Clinic advises to try this first. No pain? Then you are ready for action!

Secondly: Will you have 5 minutes sometime during your day to use your foam roller and lengthen your hamstrings/ stretch your hips?

If you answered yes to both then NOW you are ready for the 7 "S's"!


1) START without a baby jogger- your alignment is messed up enough as it is and baby joggers DO NOT help. Try running solo a few times before you add the jogger and added weight into the mix- especially if you are running hills.

2) STAND tall- keep your ribs lifted off your hips and your spine long- minimize the compression.

3) STABILIZE shoulders-- your shoulder girdle should be stable as you run. DO NOT recruit your neck muscles by allowing your shoulders to creep up to ears- slide 'em down!

4) STACK ribs- align your ribs on top of your pelvis and keep them there- don't lean forward or flare them! 

5) SUCK in gut- well, not really but it starts w/ S. Draw your belly in and recruit those core muscles  about 20% your entire run. This will keep you tall and save your back.

6) SAVE knees- use your hamstrings, inner thighs and booty as  much as possible. See how little you can use your quads and give your knees a break. Try pushing a little more though the heels.

7)  SHIFT weight- you are probably leaning too far forward w/ your upper body, especially if you are exhausted or your breasts are full of milk! Bring your weight back on your heels and run more upright.


At mamalates we know that all mamas have their own path to recovery- some mamas don't run and that is OK! In fact, there are so many articles about the amazing benefits of walking if that is fine for you but these same tips apply!

One other thing to remember: if you have a diastasis recti, you can wear your binder while running..This will help you maintain length and offer support.  But if you are 3-4  fingers or more separated, it is recommended to wait until the gap closes up to less than 21/2 before you lace up those Brooks!


"Don't fear moving forward, fear standing still."


Wendy Foster is a mom, business owner, pre/post fitness specialist and part time runner.


Do you have Diastasis? March 14 2013, 0 Comments

Diastasis recti is separation of the rectus abdominus (your “six pack!”). This happens at the linea alba (which is a fibrous band of connective tissue down middle of abdomen between the muscles) and can affect 2/3 of postpartum women.

You may been experiencing this and not even know it!


Diastasis is when the linea alba that runs vertical from your zyphoid process to your pubic bone splits. It can split the entire length or just an inch or 2. The separation is most comonly found around the belly button.


It can happen to anyone but most usually is caused by a big growth spurt during pregnancy. It is more commonly found in small frame women (no room for the baby to go except OUT front) and women who are extremely tight or fit around the core and then become pregnant. It may also be found in women who have undergone a cesarean.

Diastasis is also found in "gym rats" (men and women) who perform hundreds of abdominal crunches improperly.


Your rectus abdominus is a crucial part of your "inner corset." It helps protect your back, plays a big role in posture and alingment and contains your inner organs. If it is compromised, your body starts to overcompensate. Your back does the work your core should be doing. Your shoulders start engaging overtime as well and you can end up with neck discomfort. Having abdominal separation can actaully make you appear to be bloated or 5 lbs heavier than you are. Your abdominals become hard to "reel in" and separation can actally become worse. Problems may not manifest until 2-3 or 10 years down the road, but get a handle on it now.


Ask your doctor or midwife to check you immeditely after baby is born.

  1. Lay on your back with knees bent. One hand behind head, one hand on your xyphoid proccess with fingers going perpendicular to zyphoid (across).
  2. Roll up with your head + shoulders and look down at your feet. Do not engage abdominals.
  3. Slowly, starty to walk your fingers down. Walk them all the way down to your pubic bone. If you feel a divit or a groove where your fingers sink in a bit, then you have diastasis.
  4. It may be wider in some spots and narrower in others.
  5. One to 2 finger width separation is normal immediately postpartum and, can repair on its own .Greater than that, you need extra help


Binding! Splint yourself immediately postpartum. Use a scarf or store bought girdle (like spanks) or purchase a splint. Wrap from your hips up to the top of your ribcage. If your separation is greater than a 2 finger tip width, you need manual support to bring everything back.

  1. Move mindfully. Keep a neutral pelvis and spine while holding and lifting. This includes baby, car seat, emptying dishwasher... DO NOT ALLOW YOUR ABS TO POOCH OUT! Exhale, and draw your belly button towards your spine as you exert yourself.
  2. Log roll out of bed and/or down to the floor to play with baby and children. Use your hand to prevent your abs from bulging by placing it on your belly
  3. Perform specific diastasis recovery exercises and incorporate your pelvic floor as you do so.
  4. NO CRUNCHES or CURLS. Do not do any exercise where you lift your head off the floor or have your knees up att table top. (This can worsen the diastasis.)
  5. Get a prescription for physical therapy if your diastasis recti is 2 1/2 finger width or greater. Demand it from your doctor.
  6. Please check Mamalates for diastasis repair workshop, and our mom+babe workout DVD for a safe workout if you have diastasis

Other resources for diastasis

Local doctors and pyhsical therapists:

Dr. Lara Williams- Every Woman's Health-

Lisa Friedman -Moxie body PT-(503) 239-6199


Q&A with Lara Williams, MD March 14 2013, 0 Comments

Lara Williams, MD is a board-certified OB/GYN who currently practices with Everywoman's Health in Portland, Oregon. She graduated from Rice University in Houston, Texas and did her residency in OB/GYN at University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, New Mexico. During that time, she injured her hands. Through Pilates, Aston Patterning and Cranio-Sacral therapy, she was able to completely heal her injuries. She started training as a Pilates instructor through Core Dynamic Pilates and was PMA certified in 2006. She is now studying to be an instructor in both Gyrotonic and Gyrokinesis exercise systems. She conducts Pilates workshops in Pelvic Floor Rehabilitation and continues to use Pilates.


Every Woman's Health

"The immediate post-partum period is the culmination of fatigue, sleep deprivation, hormonal changes, muscle and nerve stretch/injury, redistribution of weight, laxiaty of the ligaments, poor nutrition (mainly from being too tired to eat), the art of breastfeeding and complete devotion to a newborn's hourly needs. During that period, finding support for all of those facets of recovery and growth can be challenging and even more difficult because of the added requirement of finding childcare. This is a critical period for a woman to regain strength and balance in both physical and emotional realms and more needs to be done in the way we offer support."
—Dr Lara Williams, on Birth Recovery

Q+A with Dr. Lara Williams


Diastasis recti is defined as a separation of the rectus abdominis muscles (the muscles in the center of the abdomen) into right and left sides. Normally they are joined the middle of the abdomen at the linea alba. During pregnancy, as the uterus continues to grow, the rectus muscles must stretch to accommodate the enlarged uterus. In some cases (a large baby, excess amniotic fluid, twins or other multiples, or just because), the muscles will separate to either side of the abdomen and leave a space between them. This can be felt on exam by your physician or midwife. Sometimes patients will notice a soft bulge in the middle of their abdomen when they try to sit up.


Yes. When the abdominal muscles don’t work in concert with each other then the muscles in your back have to compensate. For example, when you go to lift something like your beautiful child and their car seat and the diaper bag and the toy bag for the other child and your purse which has everything you could possibly need for any emergency, your back muscles have to strain to compensate for your poorly functioning abdominal muscles. Since the back muscles are not made to perform the functions of the abdominal muscles, this can lead to back strain and pain.


A hernia is a defect or weakening in the fascia (the strong layer that separates the inside organs from the stomach muscles). Sometimes this defect allows an organ (such as the intestines) that was previously contained by the fascia to protrude through this layer. A medical examination and either ultrasound or CT scan is needed to distinguish between a hernia and a diastasis recti . An example of a hernia would be an umbilical hernia, where part of the small intestine pushes through a weakening or defect in the fascia in the belly button. It will feel like a soft ball and sometimes can be very painful. This is a common place to get a hernia after a pregnancy or some surgeries.


First, you need to be seen by your medical professional to make sure that this is a diastasis recti and not a ventral (central) or umbilical (around belly button) hernia. There are physical therapists and other fitness experts who specialize in diastasis recti. Surgery may be needed in advanced cases, but most diastasis recti resolve with appropriate exercises. It is important to learn what exercises are good to help resolve your diastasis since some abdominal exercises can actually make it worse.

Binding and Splinting for Birth Recovery January 30 2013, 0 Comments

Ideally, all women would leave the hospital with a binder or splint from their OB/GYN or nurse. Did you receive one?

Most cultures do wrap for support a week or so after the baby arrives—this helps support the back, prevent compression in the spine and pull the belly in—especially if you are experiencing diastasis recti (abdominal separation). It can also lift your organs up off your pelvic floor.

In fact, we used to wear corsets and even girdles up until the 1970s!

If you are an avid baby wearer, it is very important to carry and lift with proper biomechanics, and an abdominal binder can help with this as well.

The abdominal binder we sell is "industrial" strength and will help to keep the connective tissue connected while you lift and carry your new baby.

We've seen the best results when incorporating mamalates restorative abdominal exercises while wearing the abdominal binder throughout the day!

Welcome to My Birth Recovery! July 28 2012, 0 Comments

We are so happy that you have found us and that you are commited to RECLAIMING YOUR CORE!

We aim to offer the best postpartum/postnatal fitness and birth recovery products, so that you can put yourself back together and create a strong fitness foundation in your possibly unfamiliar, postnatal body. We feel this is just essential for new moms. Whether you are a boot camper or a couch potoato, if you do not have the support and tools you need postpartum, you could be setting yourself up for lifelong postural issues and chronic pain. Just lifting, wearing and caring for your new baby is a workout!

Modifications and a deeper focus on your alignment may be necessary for you before you jump back into your fitness routine.

All of our products are mom-tested and approved. We will be adding to our Mamalates and entire collection regularly—be sure to check back for new items, information and prenatal/postpartum fitness videos.

Thank you!