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Diastasis Recti during Pregnancy or Postpartum

Are you dealing with diastasis recti during pregnancy or postpartum?

First of all, let’s talk about what the heck diastasis recti is. It is a term thrown around a lot and not a lot of people know what exactly it is!

If we are meeting for the first time - hi! Welcome to Vibrant Mama Wellness! My name is Megan, and I am a pre and postnatal personal trainer. I am certified through the National Academy of Sports Medicine and through PROnatal fitness. I am a mom of 1, and became interested in pre + postnatal fitness as I was going through my own pregnancy journey!

(Disclaimer: I am not a doctor and this is not medical advice. This blog is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or condition. This blog post is based on my own research and experience - please consult a medical professional before starting or making any changes to your fitness regime).

Diastasis recti (DR) is the partial or complete separation of the rectus abdominis (what many people refer to as the “six-pack” muscles).

These two muscles run from your sternum to your pubic bone, and are connected in the middle by a tissue called the linea alba. Anyone can develop diastasis recti, but it is most common during pregnancy.

Diastasis recti during pregnancy happens due to the fact that the abdominal wall is stretching to allow room for the organs to move and the uterus to expand. This growth happens rapidly, and it specifically stretches the linea alba, creating a large separation between the 2 rectus abdominis.

If there is excess intra-abdominal pressure during this time, it places stress on the linea alba, thus weakening it, and lessening the chances the gap will close on it’s own in the postpartum period.

The technical definition of DR is a separation of 2.7cm or more (roughly 2 finger widths) between the right and left rectus abdominis. Although research is now demonstrating that it is more important to pay attention to the tension of the linea alba (the tissue that connects the two sides of the abdominis).

If there is a wider gap but the linea alba is strong, this is less indicative of DR than if there was a small gap and a weak linea alba. Typically, the widest part of separation is seen at the belly button, but it can occur above and below as well.

Here are some risk factors for developing diastasis recti during pregnancy:

  • Carrying a large baby/multiples

  • Incorrect breathing when working out during pregnancy / mismanaged pushing during labor (both creating extra intra-abdominal pressure)

  • Undergoing a C-Section

*Note - most women have abdominal separation during pregnancy and shortly after giving birth. This is normal! Not everyone will develop DR.*

“Okay, so how do I find out if I have Diastasis Recti?”

I recommend checking in with a professional. Contact your doctor who can do a quick check for you in the office. You can also contact a pelvic physical therapist, or a certified personal trainer who specializes in pre and postnatal (if you want to chat with me - send me an email!). This way you can get an official diagnosis and get started on healing!

Some symptoms of diastasis recti to look out for include:

  • low back pain

  • poor posture

  • coning or bulging at the core

  • distended abdomen (might look like you are still pregnant long after giving birth)

  • incontinence

  • pelvic floor dysfunction

  • inability to engage core muscles

I hope this blog post helped you understand exactly what diastasis recti is, and how it can happen! Stay tuned for my next blog post later this week on ways you can work on HEALING your diastasis recti. While this diagnosis can seem scary for a lot of people, in most cases it is completely treatable without surgery.

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Disclaimer: This blog does not serve as medical advice. Please consult your medical provider before starting a new fitness routine. This blog is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or condition.


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