Coning of the belly during pregnancy is when you see a ridge or bulge popping out down the midline of your belly, typically when doing an exercise in correctly or an exercise that puts too much stress on the abdominals and should be avoided (see the image below for a visual). You can also see coning after baby if there is any abdominal separation (diastasis recti). Don’t fret – I have some great tips for you below so keep reading…
NOTE: This is why you do NOT do traditional crunches during pregnancy, once in your second trimester you will always see coning doing crunches.
A pregnant belly should stay as round and smooth across your entire belly, if you see any coning that is a good indication of a couple of things:
- 1) You need to be sure your deep core muscles are activated properly.
- 2) You should avoid any exercise that causes coning during and right after pregnancy.
- 3) You have diastasis recti and need to follow #2 rule very strictly until you can heal your diastasis after baby.
- 4) And YES you can heal your diastasis after baby and even prevent further separation and possibly even decrease the separation during pregnancy – crazy concept but I’ve done it with many clients and you can too!
- 5) Always roll to your side to lay down and to get up instead of laying straight back which typically always creates coning towards the end of pregnancy. I do recommend to continue this after baby until your core strength is back and/or diastasis recti is healed.
In The Knocked Up Fitness® Guide to Pregnancy I explain in detail how to activate your deep core muscles along with my Push PrepTM method. When you truly understand how to engage your deep core muscles you can more easily minimize diastsis recti during pregnancy and repair after baby.
Another question that comes up is “Does the gap have to close?” – well, ideally I like to see the gap close to 1 finger-width, which is the normal spacing between the rectus abdominals. However, when it comes to true diastsis recti you can actually push down into your abdominal cavity because there isn’t much facial connection between your abdominal muscles – thus learning how to activate your deep core muscles can help train your body to create good facial connection.
Even if you aren’t able to fully get the separation back together it’s more important that you can create good facial tension. This means you may still have some separation of your rectus abdominals but you can no longer push down into your abdominal cavity because you have created this new facial tissue connection across your abdominals. Also meaning you have now created support for your organs and have a flatter belly because you have good abdominal facial connection.
One last benefit to mention to avoiding coning during and after pregnancy and learn to activate your deep core muscles properly is to also help in prevention of incontinence.
The Knocked Up Fitness® DVD’s are designed with diastsis recti in mind. That said, if an exercise creates any coning try to first connect your deep core and if you still see coning of your belly then skip that exercise and move on to the next or replace that core exercise with a simpler one such as cat cows.