Diastasis Recti During Pregnancy: Prevention, Treatment, and Exercises

Diastasis recti after child birth. woman wearing a corset to support the abdomen during diastasis

Pregnancy is a beautiful and transformative journey for women, but it often comes with concerns about physical changes, including diastasis recti. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the intricacies of diastasis recti during pregnancy, provide invaluable insights on what it is, who is at risk, when to expect it, and how to manage it effectively. We will also cover crucial aspects of lifestyle and intimacy during pregnancy and shares tips for maintaining core strength throughout this incredible journey.

Related: Flat Mom Butt: Get Your Pre-Baby Booty Back

What is Diastasis Recti?

a diagram showing abdomen without diastasis recti versus with diastasis recti

Diastasis recti abdominis (DRA), often referred to as “diastasis,” is the separation of muscles in the body. Contrary to some misconceptions, it’s not the muscles tearing apart. Rather, it involves the stretching and separation of the linea alba, a connective tissue located between the two long sheaths of abdominal muscles. During pregnancy, the linea alba naturally becomes more elastic to accommodate the growing uterus, causing the abdominal muscles to separate. This separation is entirely normal, with most women experiencing a gap of one to one and a half fingers before pregnancy. However, during pregnancy, this gap can widen to two, three, or even four finger-widths, depending on various factors.

Related: Aches and Pains of Pregnancy: Understanding and Coping

What is the Prevalence of Diastasis Recti during pregnancy and postpartum?

According to a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, the prevalence of DRA was 33.1%, 60.0%, 45.4%, and 32.6% at gestation week 21, 6 weeks, 6 months, and 12 months postpartum, respectively. Another study published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information found that the prevalence of diastasis recti was 32.6% 12 months postpartum.

Related: How to Deal with Pregnancy Insomnia?

How to Tell if You have Diastasis Recti during pregnancy?

physiotherapist checking diastasis recti on belly of postpartum woman

Here are some ways to tell if you have diastasis recti during pregnancy:

  • A visible bulge or ridge in the middle of the abdomen
  • A feeling of weakness or instability in the core
  • Lower back pain
  • Pelvic pain
  • The “bread loaf” or doming of your abdominal muscles as you roll to sit up
  • A postpartum pooch around your ab muscles

Related: How to Deal with Pregnancy Constipation?

What are the Risk Factors for Diastasis Recti?

Several factors can increase your likelihood of developing diastasis recti during pregnancy:

  • Older maternal age
  • Multiparity (having multiple pregnancies)
  • Fetal macrosomia (having a baby that weighs more than 4,000 grams)
  • Flaccid abdominal muscles
  • Obesity
  • Having a C-section delivery

Related: How to Deal with Pregnancy Fatigue

What are the Symptoms of Diastasis Recti during pregnancy?

Some women may not experience any symptoms of diastasis recti during pregnancy, while others may experience:

  • A visible bulge or ridge in the middle of the abdomen
  • A feeling of weakness or instability in the core
  • Lower back pain
  • Pelvic pain

When to Start Worrying About Diastasis Recti?

For women at high risk, diastasis recti may develop early, around the 14-week mark of pregnancy. However, if you began your pregnancy with a strong core and engaged in strenuous activities like burpees, push-ups, and deadlifting, you might not need to be concerned until around 26 weeks.

How to Prevent Diastasis Recti during pregnancy?

While it may not be possible to prevent diastasis recti entirely, there are some things that women can do to reduce their risk of developing it during pregnancy. These include:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight before and during pregnancy
  • Engaging in regular exercise, with the guidance of a healthcare provider
  • Avoiding activities that put excessive strain on the abdominal muscles, such as heavy lifting or sit-ups
  • Wearing a supportive belly band or maternity belt

What is the Treatment of Diastasis Recti during pregnancy?

If you are diagnosed with diastasis recti during pregnancy, your healthcare provider may recommend:

  • Avoiding activities that exacerbate the condition
  • Engaging in exercises that strengthen the core muscles, such as pelvic tilts or Kegels
  • Wearing a supportive belly band or maternity belt

How to Recover from Diastasis Recti postpartum?

While some women may recover from diastasis recti on their own after giving birth, others may require treatment. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • A longitudinal study published in 2015 showed that there was no difference in the incidence of diastasis recti at six months between those who exercised pre-pregnancy and during pregnancy.
  • More than half of women with diastasis recti remain abnormally wide eight weeks after delivery, and although some recover by six months, many have not recovered even one year later.
  • A study in Norway followed over 300 women through the first 12 months after giving birth to assess the recovery from diastasis recti. The prevalence of diastasis recti was 33.1%, 60.0%, 45.4%, and 32.6% at gestation week 21, 6 weeks, 6 months, and 12 months postpartum, respectively.

What is the Treatment of Diastasis Recti postpartum?

If you are diagnosed with diastasis recti postpartum, your healthcare provider may recommend:

  • Engaging in exercises that strengthen the core muscles, such as pelvic tilts or Kegels
  • Wearing a supportive belly band or maternity belt
  • Physical therapy to help strengthen the abdominal muscles
  • Surgery in severe cases

What are the Best Exercises for Diastasis Recti?

Here are some of the best exercises for diastasis recti:

  • Abdominal compressions
  • Pelvic tilts
  • Toe taps
  • Heel slides
  • Single-leg stretches
  • Bridges with belly scooping
  • Glute bridges
  • Transverse abdominal breathing
  • Alternating heel slides and leg lifts
  • Lying bent knee pulls

Can you Repair Diastasis Recti without Surgery?

Yes, it is possible to repair diastasis recti without surgery. Physical therapy, at-home exercises, and gentle movements that engage the abdominal muscles can help heal diastasis recti. Here are some ways to fix diastasis recti without surgery:

  • Work with a fitness professional or physical therapist who has experience with diastasis recti
  • Perform gentle movements that engage the abdominal muscles
  • Follow a treatment plan to make sure you are performing the movements correctly and progressing to more challenging movements at the right time
  • Avoid exercises that exacerbate the condition
  • Practice good posture
  • Wear a supportive belly band or maternity belt

What is the Importance of seeking treatment?

While diastasis recti may not always cause symptoms, it is important to seek treatment if you are experiencing pain or discomfort. Left untreated, diastasis recti can lead to other complications, such as pelvic floor dysfunction.

What is the Importance of exercise?

Engaging in regular exercise, with the guidance of a healthcare provider, can help prevent and treat diastasis recti. Exercise can help strengthen the core muscles and improve overall health and well-being.

What is the Importance of a healthy diet?

Maintaining a healthy diet before and during pregnancy can help reduce the risk of developing diastasis recti. Eating a balanced diet that is rich in nutrients can help support the health of the abdominal muscles.

What is the Importance of weight management?

Maintaining a healthy weight before and during pregnancy can help reduce the risk of developing diastasis recti. Excess weight can put additional strain on the abdominal muscles, making them more susceptible to separation.

What is the Importance of good posture?

Maintaining good posture during pregnancy can help reduce the risk of developing diastasis recti. Good posture can help support the abdominal muscles and reduce the strain on the linea alba.

What is the Importance of rest?

Getting enough rest during pregnancy can help reduce the risk of developing diastasis recti. Rest can help the body recover and reduce the strain on the abdominal muscles.

What is the Importance of seeking medical advice?

If you are experiencing symptoms of diastasis recti or have concerns about your abdominal muscles during or after pregnancy, it is important to seek medical advice. Your healthcare provider can help diagnose and treat the condition, and provide guidance on how to prevent it in the future.

Conclusion

Diastasis recti during pregnancy is a common concern, but with the right knowledge and precautions, you can manage it effectively. Hope this article provides invaluable guidance on exercise, lifestyle, and intimacy during pregnancy. Remember that having diastasis recti during pregnancy doesn’t mean it’s permanent. With proper care and postpartum recovery, you can regain core strength and confidence. Embrace this transformative journey with the knowledge and support you need to thrive.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is diastasis recti during pregnancy?

Diastasis recti is the separation of the rectus abdominis muscles from the linea alba during pregnancy.

What are the risk factors for diastasis recti during pregnancy?

Older maternal age, multiparity, fetal macrosomia, flaccid abdominal muscles, obesity, and having a C-section delivery.

Can you repair diastasis recti without surgery?

Yes, physical therapy, at-home exercises, and gentle movements that engage the abdominal muscles can help heal diastasis recti.

What exercises can help treat diastasis recti during pregnancy?

Abdominal compressions, pelvic tilts, toe taps, heel slides, single-leg stretches, deep core strengthening exercises, Kegels, squats, modified planks, and side-lying leg lifts.

How can you prevent diastasis recti during pregnancy?

Maintain a healthy weight, engage in regular exercise, avoid activities that put excessive strain on the abdominal muscles, and wear a supportive belly band or maternity belt.

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Hi, I'm Sushil Singh, a devoted dad and guiding voice in the transformative journey of parenting, based in Mumbai. Drawing from a decade of firsthand experience and extensive research, I offer authentic insights into prepartum, pregnancy, and postpartum stages at Pregnancy Boss. From joyous milestones to challenging uncertainties, my mission is to provide reliable support and practical advice, helping you navigate this profound journey with confidence. Let's embrace the beauty and complexities of parenthood together. Connect for guidance or shared stories. Cheers to our shared path! 🥂 Social Medial Profiles: Quora Pinterest Twitter Facebook

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