Many have heard of Diastasis Recti that occurs often during pregnancy and in the postpartum period. I’m happy that there is an increased awareness as it can help women prevent the abdominal separation from occurring in the first place as well as help new moms bounce back quicker after baby. It can also help women identify and address many of the symptoms that come along with a diastasis (pronounced dye-uh-STAY-siss or dahy-as-tuh-sis).
Some signs that you might have diastasis include:
– a prominent bulge or cone shape of the abdomen when crunching or rising from lying down
– having an ‘outie’ when you used to have an ‘innie’ bellybutton
– low back pain/discomfort and pelvic instability
– looking 4 months pregnant and having a difficult time toning the abdomen
You can perform your own check for diastasis recti. Here’s how:
1. Lie on your back with your knees bent
2. Place your fingers at your navel
3. Perform an abdominal crunch – make sure your abs are contracted – lift your head and shoulders off the ground
4. Place your fingers in your belly button and try to find the groove that separates the two sides of your abdomen. Make a note of how many fingers you can fit in this groove (horizontally) and slide your hands up to feel above and below the belly button
5. If you can fit more than two fingers width wise in this groove, you have Diastasis Recti.
I have assessed many women with diastasis and it can be corrected! It takes lots of time and care and is a slow process but many will notice an improvement in 6-8 weeks.
You can help correct your diastasis by omitting all types of crunching movements as this creates strain on the rectus abdominus and can aggravate your separation. All types of abdominal crunches should be avoided during pregnancy and in the immediate postpartum period as this can cause diastasis. Next, ensure you are rolling over onto your side before getting up (out of bed or from a lying down position). Incorporate Kegels into your daily activities as strengthening the muscles of the pelvic floor help provide more pelvic stability (something that is compromised with an abdominal separation). Finally, focus on strengthening your Transverse Abdominus or TVA’s, your deep core muscles to help build back the connective tissue that holds the two sides of the rectus abdominus together. A simple way to do this is to draw your navel in towards your spine.
Stay tuned for more TVA exercises – I’ll incorporate more of these in my next post…