It’s Not Extra Weight After Pregnancy, It’s Diastasis Recti

It’s Not Extra Weight After Pregnancy, It’s Diastasis Recti

Your post-baby belly ‘pouch’ may have nothing to do with “stubborn weight that won’t shift”, as many women describe it to us, and much more to do with the separation of your abdominal muscles. With an estimated one in two women experiencing diastasis recti during and after pregnancy, today we’re shedding the light on what it is, and how to manage it safely.

What exactly is diastasis recti?

Diastasis recti describes the abnormal separation of your abdominal muscles after pregnancy. It occurs down the midline of the stomach, right where you’d see that indent on someone that has a defined core (think to those six-packs!).

While we expect our muscle to separate somewhat to accommodate our growing baby, especially in the last trimester, we also expect them to close the gap and return to normal after delivery. In diastasis recti, they don’t. The connective tissue down the midline of the abdominals, called the linea alba, stretches or thins, keeping the abdominal muscles on either side separated. 

This results in a pouch or protrusion of the belly, down the midline of the stomach – and it can be very frustrating for women.

What are the symptoms?

You may notice:

  • A protrusion, pouch or bulge down the midline of the stomach
  • Problems controlling your pelvic floor
  • Changes to your posture
  • Weakness and impaired function of the pelvic floor and deep core muscles, which affects the stability of the pelvis and lower back, and pain in these areas

I think I have diastasis recti but I’ve never been pregnant. Is this possible?

Yes it is – and it can affect men, too. When we perform repetitive movements that stretch the abdominal muscles (especially apart), we may excessively stretch the connective tissue between the abdominals, and result in muscle separation.

It may also occur from things like bloating, muscle shortening, posture, and more.

How is diastasis recti treated? Will my stomach return to normal?

Yes, the prognosis for diastasis recti is good when the right care and steps are taken. Every treatment we provide here at The Physio is tailored to you, your symptoms, your muscle strength and function, the number of weeks since delivery, and more.

We’ll start by gently working to strengthen your core muscles and pelvic floor, helping manage any postural or alignment problems too. As you regain your strength, we’ll adjust your plan to help you get the best outcomes, as quickly as possible. With this said, treating diastasis recti should never be rushed – maintaining a good technique and not overdoing it is key to a healthy recovery.

Can you prevent diastasis recti?

While nothing can give you a confident 100% prevention result, you can help reduce the likelihood by limiting movements that strain the abdominals and the connective tissue separating them. This includes staying mindful of your posture (don’t push your shoulders back and chest forward), managing any muscle tightness (particularly at your chest, shoulders and hip/back) and avoiding straining your stomach constantly by sucking it in or letting it bloat often.

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