Diastasis Recti - What You Need To Know
Diastasis Recti -What You Need To know
Years after giving birth to 3 lovely children I found out about this situation called “diastasis recti” or “abs separation”. I knew, felt and saw my tummy getting bigger with each pregnancy but I didn’t put any emphasis about what is happening with my tummy muscles after giving birth. I understood this situation could explain why my tummy still looked pregnant long after childbirth and also why I suffer from other symptoms related to ‘diastasis recti’.
It would have helped if I knew more about it during my pregnancy but it is never too late to fix this even after giving birth. So here is what you need to know about it and I hope this will help create awareness with his situation.
What is diastasis recti?
Diastasis recti is the partial or complete separation of the rectus abdominis, which meet at the midline of your stomach. Diastasis recti is very common during and after pregnancy. This is because the uterus stretches the muscles (rectus abdominis which runs vertically along the front of your stomach) in the abdomen to accommodate your growing baby.
The linea alba, a band of tissue that runs down the middle thins and pulls apart. This band of tissue gets wider as it's pushed outward. Once you deliver your baby, the linea alba can heal and come back together. But when the tissue loses its elasticity from being overstretched, the gap in the abdominals will not close as much as it should and this condition is called diastasis recti.
Almost all women after pregnancy have some degree of diastasis recti because of the tummy being stretched during pregnancy. This condition can affect anyone, even men!
What are the symptoms?
If you have diastasis, your tummy may appear to stick out just above or below the belly button, making you appear pregnant months or years after giving birth.
The most common symptom of diastasis recti is aesthetic. There is a pooch or bulge in your stomach, especially when you strain or contract your abdominal muscles.
Additional symptoms might include (but not necessarily):
lower back pain
What happens if I don’t treat my diastasis recti?
If left untreated, most likely it will be left as an aesthetic thing. Diastasis recti can potentially lead to poor core stabilization, pelvic floor dysfunction, and back or pelvic pain but it doesn’t mean it will happen. Most importantly is to be aware of this condition and that you learn to manage and control this during your workout but also in every day activity.
How do I know if I have diastasis recti?
You can check for diastasis recti on your own, but it is always a good idea to speak with your healthcare provider that
will evaluate if diastasis is present, where it's located and how severe it is. Diastasis recti can occur above the belly button, below the belly button and at the belly button.
This is a way you can check it for yourself (this is just a recommendation and best to check with a physiotherapist or your doctor):
Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
Place your fingers on above your belly button, pointing towards your pelvis, and press down.
Lift your head slightly off the ground, keeping one hand behind your head for support. Almost like you are doing a sit-up. Look down at your belly.
Use your fingers to feel for a gap between the abs. See how many fingers can fit in the gap between your right and left abdominals.
Repeat the same now placing your fingers below your belly button.
If you have diastasis recti, you will feel a gap between the muscles that is about 2 fingers, or more, wide. You would feel like you can press down your fingers towards the belly.
How can I fix diastasis recti?
To fix diastasis recti, you'll need to perform gentle movements that engage the abdominal muscles. You shouldn’t necessarily avoid specific workout unless you can’t control the bulging and your tummy will be sticking out.
This is why I recommend to start an activity with some guidance and that it is safe for diastasis recti. Work with a fitness professional or physical therapist who has experience with diastasis recti.
There are certain movements will make abdominal separation worse so if you don’t know how to engage your tummy in those movements, it is best to do them with some supervision or avoid them till you can manage them.
Check out my Postnatal Online Pilates Program for such exercises with specific guidance on how to improve your diastasis recti and what to avoid if you have it.
How can I prevent diastasis recti?
During the post-partum period, there are some modifications you should make:
Avoid lifting heavy weights
Roll onto your side when getting out of bed or sitting up. Use your arms to push yourself up.
Skip activities and movements that push your abdominals outward (like crunches and sit-ups) especially in the third trimester, unless you know how to engage your tummy correctly and you are used to doing such exercises!
Remember that you are an amazing mother, you have a beautiful body
and you are doing your best!
Also remember that you are not alone!
Join my Facebook group – Connect & Restore your body after pregnancy with Pilates
Click here to join!
Dedicated specifically to women after childbirth.
You’ll get to hear first-hand from other mothers going through similar issues as you might face yourself and I’ll be personally sharing fantastic insights about motherhood, workout and more!
The group is completely FREE and currently accepting new members so if you think it would benefit you and your motherhood journey, we'd love to have you involved!
Join my Postpartum Online Pilates Program!
If you want to take a short break form the craziness of motherhood and you want to find time to take care of yourself for a better postpartum recovery, join my Connect & Restore Postpartum Pilates Program!
This is a short, fun and effective online program designed especially for women after childbirth to help you heal your core and pelvic floor and strengthen your body after pregnancy, with safe and effective Pilates exercises.
Read more about it from the button below: