The six-pack muscle (Rectus Abdominis) runs from your breast bone to your pubic bone and is joined together with a strong fibrous sheath called the Linea Alba.
In Latin, Rectus means “straight” and Abdominis means “abdominals”.“Linea” is referred to as “line” and “Alba” means “white” ie white line.In some pregnancies, the Linea Alba becomes a little darker in colour and is visible on your stomach. This is called Linea Negra which simply means “dark line”.
You may have heard people talk about your abdominal muscles “splitting”. Your muscles don’t actually “split”, because they’re already in a separated state, as they’re held together by the Linea Alba which I mentioned above. A split muscle is like a torn muscle, so if you’ve ever torn your hamstring, for example, you’ll know what this pain is like, and that’s why I avoid using that ter.
What happens to the abdominal muscles during pregnancy is completely normal and painless - you aren’t aware of it, and I like to refer to it simply as abdominal “separation”.
“A diastasis, a separation, during pregnancy is part of the process of growing a baby. The connective tissue is in the front of the abdomen for a reason, to provide the give necessary for there to be room for the baby to grow and mom’s organs to keep doing their jobs.”
- Julie Wiebe, US based pelvic health physiotherapist
The Rectus Abdominis stretches vertically (up and down your stomach) to accommodate baby bump at your front, and when it can’t stretch any further up and down, it then starts to separate horizontally (from left to right).
So in effect, it’s the left and right sides of your six pack muscle that have separated from one another. It’s a bit like the Linea Alba is heavy duty cling film stretching apart.
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