How to identify and fix diastasis recti wellness mama electricity clipart

Oh motherhood… When we enter the amazing journey of carrying, birthing and raising a child, we learn many terms that we’d be previously unable to define… Like perineal tear, sitz bath, and for many of us, unfortunately, also diastasis recti or (DRA). What the Heck is Diastasis Recti?

During pregnancy, the growing uterus stretches the muscles in the abdomen. This can cause the two large parallel bands of muscles that meet in the middle of the abdomen to separate — a condition called diastasis recti or diastasis recti abdominis. Diastasis recti might cause a bulge in the middle of the abdomen where the two muscles separate.( 1)

In mom terms, it is that frustrating post-baby pooch that doesn’t go away when the baby weight does and often leads to the “when are you due” question while you are holding your two year old. (Not speaking from experience or anything *ahem*)

See, post baby pooch and the pee-when-you-sneeze syndrome that can accompany it, are not often topics of everyday conversation among moms. We share advice on potty training our children, but are more hesitant to open up about the abdominal, urinary, and pelvic problems that can come postpartum for many of us.

In fact, there is a good chance that many of us struggle with this condition in some way, since statistically 98+% of women have a diastasis after delivery ( 2). It seems that diastasis can be more common the more pregnancies a woman has (I can attest to this) or if she has had multiples or already has an underlying abdominal problem.

It is also important to note that while diastasis recti is more common in pregnant women, it is actually related to internal abdominal pressure, which pregnancy increases, but not specifically *caused* by pregnancy. For this reason, men and children can suffer from a separation as well, especially after a surgery or injury. ( This video explains more)

Turns out, it did the opposite, and I noticed after that pregnancy that my stomach didn’t ever regain it’s previous “flatness” (again with the medical terms…). I also learned from my personal trainer brother-in-laws that exercises like crunches are not even that effective at increasing core strength. They recommend body weight exercises, kettlebells, and pull-ups, and their six-packs seem to speak to their effectiveness, but even these exercises can do more harm than good during pregnancy.

This is often documented by a gap of 2-3 fingers in an at-home check. As any pregnant woman who has been checked in labor can attest, “centimeter” measurements can vary greatly by finger size of the person checking, so this isn’t an exact science but a rough way to gauge a potential problem.

Doing a standard crunch or sit-up is generally not recommended for postpartum women, especially when we know a diastasis recti or DRA is present. This is because the way a crunch is generally performed has the effect of severely increasing intra abdominal pressure, pushing your organs outwards against or through the gap, and downwards onto the pelvic floor – directions you really don’t want your organs forcefully heading.( 4)

With research and sources divided, this is an issue that I personally spoke to my own midwife about before making a decision. Like I said, in the past, a splint greatly helped my postpartum pain and healing, but I used it in conjunction with exercises and had good results. When to Seek Professional Help?

I have several friends who benefitted from seeing a physical therapist for a short time to address their specific diastasis recti problems. I haven’t done this personally, but absolutely would if I had a severe separation. To find a therapist who specializes in DRA problems, go to The American Physical Therapy Association’s website and choose “women’s health”. Recommended Diastasis Resources