3 MINUTE READ
What is Diastasis Recti, why does it happen and what can we do to improve it?
Diastasis Recti is a condition in which the two vertical lines of muscle down the middle of the abdomen separate (the ‘six pack’ area). It can happen to men, women and children, but is most commonly seen in pregnant woman. During pregnancy, your growing womb puts pressure on the two bands of muscle in your abdomen which can then separate - Diastasis Recti is diagnosed if the separation is more than 2cm.
Does every pregnant woman get it?
Research has shown that somewhere between 50% and 100% of women get Diastasis Recti while pregnant, so it’s definitely not uncommon. Most women don’t notice it, and of those that do, many find that it recovers on its own at around 4-6 weeks postpartum.
How can you tell if you have Diastasis Recti?
This condition might cause a visible bulge in your stomach, and you may also be able to feel the gap with your fingers. It might however, only be noticeable when the muscles are tense, such as when you move from lying to sitting. It can cause a feeling of abdominal weakness, abdominal and lower back pain, and also make it difficult to lift objects or do some other daily tasks.
What can you do to improve it?
Firstly, after delivering your baby, give your body enough time to heal and recover. If it is still bothering you at your 6 week health check, mention it to your health care provider. They may recommend some exercises, or they might suggest that you see a physical therapist.
There are a number of helpful exercises you can try at home, and they have a good rate of success when it comes to closing the gap. The key is to rebuild your core muscles; your transverse abdominis, pelvic floor and diaphragm, which all work together.
Be mindful of doing too much, as this can make the Diastasis Recti worse, and always listen to your body. Avoid crunches, planks and any stretches which splay your abs as this may put additional strain on them.
Contact a medical professional if you are concerned or need further advice.