Millions of women suffer from diastasis recti every year. Diastasis recti is a condition where your rectus abdominus muscles separate and remain stretched after you give birth. Your rectus abdominus muscles are used to hold your core together.
During pregnancy, they stretch to accommodate your baby. For some women, those muscles don’t tighten again, making it difficult to close the gap without medical intervention. If your muscles don’t contract within six months after birth, you’re among the 60% of women with diastasis recti.
Common Causes of Diastasis Recti
Every pregnant woman can potentially be diagnosed. Certain factors increase the likelihood of a diastasis recti diagnosis. For instance, if you are 35 years or older when you give birth, your chances increase. If you have multiples, meaning twins or triplets, your chances also increase based on the need for your ab muscles to stretch further to accommodate the babies. Having more than one baby even raises the probability of being diagnosed.
If your ab muscles aren’t strong enough, this can make a vaginal birth very difficult. Diastasis recti can also occur in men for several reasons. Men can get this condition when they yo-yo diet, or cyclically gain and lose weight. Certain exercises like sit ups and improper weight lifting can also cause ab muscle separation.
Symptoms of Diastasis Recti
During pregnancy, many symptoms are associated with this condition. As your baby grows, your stomach expands, thinning the connective tissue between your abdominal muscles. In addition to the visible stomach pooch, you can also experience lower back pain, problems with your posture, and even constipation. Newborn babies can also have diastasis recti after delivery. This condition will go away as they develop.
Your pooch may not be fully visible until after you give birth. You may, however, see a bulge above and below your navel during pregnancy. After delivery, you can do a self-check before getting your official diagnosis. Use the following steps to find out if you have diastasis recti.
- Lay on your back with your knees bent. Your feet should be flat on the ground.
- While using one hand to support your head, raise your shoulders above the ground and look at your stomach.
- Take your free hand and place at least one finger above and below your belly button. Do the same thing between your ab muscles. If you can feel a space or can fit up to two fingers in the gap, you have a mild to moderate case of diastasis recti.
- Keep in mind, postpartum weight will linger for a few weeks. If the space between your ab muscles remains, this may be a sign of diastasis recti.
Your healthcare provider can also perform a test via ultrasound or using a device called a caliper. Once they measure your abdomen, you will receive your proper diagnosis.
I have Diastasis Recti, now what?
Once you’ve been diagnosed with diastasis recti, there are some ways to naturally heal this condition. For instance, wearing maternity belts or abdominal binders will help strengthen your midsection muscles while you heal. You should also take everyday precautions, including:
- Work on your posture. Take advantage of binders to improve your posture.
- Do not lift heavy objects or strain your abdomen muscles before or after birth. This will further exaggerate your condition.
- When sitting, use support like a pillow or a towel. If possible, purchase a wrap-around pillow.
- Use your arm to support yourself when getting out of bed. Start by bending your knees and rolling out of bed rather than lifting straight up to avoid ab muscle strains.
You can exercise to strengthen your core muscles. You can do pelvic tilts on your hands and knees. Toe taps, bridges, and belly scoops are also effective in curing abdomen separations naturally. You can also do minimal core exercises during pregnancy. Be sure to consult your healthcare provider before attempting any activity.
Pregnancy can be difficult. The last thing you want to do is cause further damage by putting additional strain on your body. Naturally, your abdominal muscles will stretch to accommodate your growing baby, so do what you can to naturally strengthen your core muscles. If you plan on having a vaginal birth, speak with your healthcare provider on core exercises you can do during pregnancy.
Keep in mind, your stomach will still be stretched for a few weeks after delivery. You can check for diastasis recti symptoms yourself prior to being diagnosed by a physician. You can naturally get rid of this condition but in severe cases, consider medical intervention.
Diastasis recti can create other ailments, including a weak core, trouble lifting, and poor posture. Therefore, seek treatment as soon as possible.