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Diastasis Recti: What It Is and How to Fix it

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What is diastasis recti? Some people commonly refer to it as pooch or simply a mommy tummy, while it is a condition known as diastasis recti. It is a bulge in the middle of the abdomen when the left and right abdominal muscles move to the side once they become weak. Notably, diastasis recti are quite common during and following pregnancy. About three in ten women will suffer from mild diastasis recti on their first pregnancy. The probability of getting the condition also goes higher after multiple pregnancies. However, it is not limited to pregnancy. Anyone, including men, can get the condition. Read through to learn more about diastasis recti and how to fix it.

Diastasis Recti: What It Is and How to Fix it

Symptoms of Diastasis Recti

While a bulge in your stomach is the most common symptom, it’s not the only one. Other symptoms include bloating, lower back pain, and constipation.

You might not have any noticeable symptoms during pregnancy, as your abdominal muscles separate. However, you might notice a ridge above or below the belly button towards the second or third trimester. Mainly, you might notice this ridge when you are using the ab muscles, for example, while trying to sit up.

After delivery, you might notice a bulge that makes you look pregnant even though you are not.

Postpartum Self-Check

After childbirth, you can self-check yourself for diastasis recti by following these simple steps:

  • While lying on your back, bend your legs with feet flat on the floor
  • Raise your shoulders slightly and look at your belly (use one hand to support your head)
  • With the freehand, move above and below the belly button and along the midline ab muscles
  • Try to fit your fingers in the gaps between the muscles
  • If you feel separation, about one or two fingers long, you could have a moderate case of diastasis recti.

While you can self-check yourself, you can also go to a doctor or physical therapist. A professional can either use a caliper or conduct an ultrasound.

What Causes Diastasis Recti?

Having understood what diastasis recti are, it is also essential to know what causes the condition. Typically, diastasis recti is a result of excessive inner-abdominal pressure. During pregnancy, both abdominal muscles and connective tissues stretch out. Besides, pushing during childbirth could also cause diastasis recti.

Although the condition is most common among women, newborn babies are sometimes born with the condition. This mostly happens when they are born prematurely. Whatsoever, the condition usually corrects itself over time.

Healing Diastasis Recti

For some people, the condition might rectify itself after childbirth as the muscles regain strength. However, if it doesn’t seem to go away eight weeks postpartum, you might consider physical exercises. You can exercise on your own or seek the help of a professional.

Notably, there are some exercises you should avoid as you heal since they might worsen the condition. These exercises include sit-ups, crunches, and some complicated yoga moves, such as the boat pose. While at it, also refrain from carrying heavy loads and coughing without supporting your abdominal muscles.

While you can entirely recover without surgery, some people still go for it. The process is commonly referred to as a tummy tuck. The surgeon will sew the separated wall back together. Furthermore, they will get rid of belly fat through liposuction.

Recovery Duration

How long it takes to recover from diastasis recti depends on the degree of severity. That can range from minor, mild, and severe diastasis recti. In the case of minor diastasis recti, the problem will disappear on its own once you start stimulating the ab muscles. For mild diastasis recti, physical exercises can help prevent any further health issues. On the other hand, severe diastasis recti must be corrected surgically.

Prevention

Diastasis recti is preventable. Pre-pregnancy, do exercises that strengthen your core. However, refrain from movements that strain your back or ones that make your tummy bulge out.

Demystifying the Myths

Unfortunately, there have been numerous misperceptions revolving around diastasis recti. Most women believe that conventional workouts can eliminate the pooch. Instead, they end up being frustrated due to taking the wrong approach. Even worse, they end up with chronic postpartum symptoms, like pelvic floor dysfunction and urinary stress incontinence.

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