Why New Mums Experience Diastasis Recti And How To Fix It

Why New Mums Experience Diastasis Recti And How To Fix It

7 Sep 2022 | 4 min Read

Reema Shah

Author | 608 Articles

Abdominal separation or diastasis recti is when a new mum’s belly sticks out because the space between her left and right belly muscles has enlarged. It is very common among pregnant women and in some cases, even newborn babies can have this belly spread. However, it should go away on its own.

Abdominal separation can happen in men as well, possibly, due to yo-yo dieting, doing sit-ups or weightlifting in the wrong way, or due to other causes.

What Is Diastasis Recti?

Some women during and after pregnancy find that their stomach muscles weaken and separate. This condition is known as ‘recti divarication’, abdominal separation or ‘diastasis recti’. It is a common condition that usually gets better in the first 8 weeks after giving birth to your baby.

Diastasis Recti occurs when the growing uterus causes the two long, parallel muscles of your stomach to separate from each other. These muscles run in your body from your chest to your pelvis, right under the skin and down the middle of your belly.

It happens mainly due to the pressure of your growing baby and due to the hormonal changes that take place during pregnancy. This usually begins in the second half of pregnancy which is the second semester.

Diastasis Recti is more common in women who have had more than one child, are over thirty-five years old or who are having twins or triplets (or more). It can also occur in a woman who is small-statured and is having a larger-than-average baby.

diastasis recti
One of the diastasis recti symptoms include lower back pain caused during and after pregnancy / Credit – Pexels

Diastasis Recti Symptoms

If you have diastasis recti after the birth of your baby, you may be able to see a gap between the two bands of abdominal muscles. You can see this gap more clearly if you lie flat on your back and lift your head.

You might notice a physical canoe-shaped bulge which appears in the middle of your stomach, especially when your abdominal muscles get active.

Lower back pain in some women is also one of the diastasis recti symptoms. This is because the separation prevents the stomach muscles from supporting the back.

Does Diastasis Recti Go Away On Its Own?

Abdominal separation usually goes away after the birth of the baby. However, up to one in three women still, report problems caused by abdominal separation even twelve months after birth.

Diastasis Recti and diastasis recti exercises
Strengthening core muscles during pregnancy with diastasis recti exercises can be very helpful to prevent abdominal separation / Credit – Pexels

Preventing Diastasis Recti During Pregnancy

Strengthening your core muscles before you get pregnant or in the early stages of pregnancy might help prevent abdominal separation.

It’s recommended to not put excess strain on your abdominal muscles while pregnant. Avoid exercises like sit-ups or planks. Try to avoid constipation and get your cough treated in case you have it.

Diastasis Recti Treatment After Giving Birth?

It’s important to stop the separation from getting worse. Try these tips:

  • Do not lift anything heavier than your baby
  • Roll onto your side whenever you get out of bed or sit up.
  • Try gentle exercises rather than intense ones to help strengthen the deeper stomach muscles.
  • Skip any activities and movements that can worsen abdominal separation. This includes sit-ups, oblique curls and certain yoga poses for which your doctor can give the best advice. Practice mild diastasis recti exercise under guidance.

You may also wear a supportive brace or compression underwear to help support your back and resolve the muscle separation. With time and care, the muscles will most likely come back together. If that doesn’t work you may go for surgery after you’ve had your baby. However, it is optional.

Surgery involves using stitches usually to repair the abdominal wall and reduce the gap between the muscles. This can help to improve the quality of life and build muscle strength, especially in mums who have a separation wider than 3cm.

If you notice any severe discomfort or anything unusual about your stomach muscles see your doctor or physiotherapist. 

Cover image credit – Pexels
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