What is a diastasis recti?
This is the name for a separation of the midline rectus abdominal muscles during pregnancy. This is not something to become distressed by as around 65% of pregnant women report this occurring especially during the third trimester of pregnancy.
The separation is most noticeable when you strongly activate your abdominals, for example when you sit straight up from bed or with a strong cough or sneeze. The doming you may see is the protrusion of the abdominal wall between the two bands of the rectus muscle.
What causes a diastasis recti?
- Abdominal weakness
- Abdominal wall stretch
- Relaxin hormones
- Size of your baby
- Successive pregnancies
What happens to the diastasis recti?
Most of the closure of the diastasis will occur in the first 12 weeks after delivery, with the appropriate progressive retraining of the abdominals. Specific exercises should be carried out avoiding abdominal doming with exercise.
How do I test for a diastasis recti?
You can measure both the length and the width of you diastasis by using your fingers and performing a gentle chest lift.
What do I need to do to make sure my abdominals return to their optimum?
If your separation is less than 2 cm you can start with a progressive program starting with deep abdominal training first then progressing to oblique work. Once this can be performed appropriately (with out doming) then you can start working the rectus muscles.
If you have a separation greater the 2cm wide you will benefit from seeking assistance from a trained health professional who can guide you with the appropriate progressions.
It is very important not to start your abdominal retraining with sit ups or other related exercises as this will overload the rectus muscles and will prolong or worsen you diastasis.
A progressive clinical pilates program under the instruction of an appropriately trained instructor can be an enjoyable and beneficial way to retrain your abdominal muscles.