Mommy Belly - The medical explanation and how to heal it.
Updated: Aug 14, 2020
This month is pelvic health awareness month and today we are going to provide
you with information about Diastasis Recti.
If you are at home and you are thinking to yourself I cannot lose this stubborn postpartum belly no matter how many crunches I do, or you are still struggling to fit into your favorite pre-pregnancy jeans because of your pregnancy pooch…..The problem may not be what you think it is. It may be something called Diastasis Recti.
DISCLOSURE: This information is not meant to be ALL encompassing and should NOT replace seeking advice from your health care provider for specific, questions, solutions, and concerns about your health! The purpose is to spark curiosity and gain some insight into your health.
What is Diastasis Recti?
Diastasis is separation of the rectus abdominis muscle ( AKA that six packet you used to have before you gave birth) or in my case the 6 pack I always wanted but haven’t had since middle school.
For those of you that don’t know your ab muscles consist of a group of muscles that make up and help support your overall core strength AND YOUR PELVIS!!! Don’t be too hard on yourself if you are missing those ab muscles. You grew a tiny human from scratch and you did that by allowing your body to adapt to a growing baby by making room in your pelvis.
100% of mothers will experience the separation of muscles to accommodate for your growing baby.
How does your body stretch so much?
The two culprits responsible for DR are called Relaxin and Progesterone. They work by creating laxity of the connective tissues and muscles. The diagnosis of Diastsis Recti (DR) is made after you give birth when these muscles separate more than 2.5-2.7 cm along the linea alba. (The connective tissue that runs right down the center of your abdomen.)
Up to 60% of women have DR and will require intervention.
How do you know if you have DR?
10 COMMON SIGNS:
1. Weakening of pelvic floor muscles.
2. Pelvic floor dysfunction.
3. Incontinence (leakage of urine).
4. Pelvic pain.
5. Lower back pain.
6. Pain during intercourse.
7. Poor postpartum posture.
8. Umbilical hernia.
9. A cone shape or protrusion of your lower abdomen.
10. Inability to tighten your core muscles.
Can you diagnose DR yourself?
YES and NO. The directions below explain how to test yourself to see if you may have DR but the actual diagnosis and treatment plan needs to be made by a healthcare provider.
1. Lie down on your back on the floor with your knees bent and your feet flat.
2. With your head raised off the floor, shoulders slightly lifted, look down at your stomach.
3. With one hand, move your fingers above and below your belly button to see if you can feel any gaps in your muscles. Feel for both depth and distance.
4. If you feel a separation of two finger widths (finger placement is horizontal), you likely have a mild case of diastasis recti. Separation of three to four finger widths indicate a moderate case, while four or more finger widths point to a severe case.
5. Talk to your doctor or a physical therapist to get a definitive measurement/diagnosis, particularly if signs point to having a moderate to severe case.
How do you know if I am going to be one of the 60% that will have Diastasis Recti?
Unfortunately, there is no way of knowing but there are risk factors and ways to help prevent this while you are still pregnant. Some of the risk factors include:
1. Multiples babies at once.
2. Larger babies.
3. Weaker abdominal wall to begin your pregnancy.
4. Narrow pelvis.
5. Short interval between pregnancies.
6. Over the age of 35.
What are some to avoid before and after pregnancy?
It’s a common mistake to over-exercise the ab muscles after delivery. Many women think if they do enough crunches they can fix their DR but that is not the case. In fact doing crunches may actually worsen your diastasis. Avoid these movements at all possible:
1. Most importantly, avoid increase pressure on your belly.
2. Pushes ups.