Diastasis recti, is the separation of normally joined abdominal muscles– frequently as a result of pregnancy. Diastasis occurs with approximately 1/3 of women who have had a baby. This is frequently what technically leads to lower back pain during pregnancy. (As your belly gets bigger, the abdominal muscles separate and your lower back no longer has its muscular support fram.) It is not necessarily painful, and does not usually require surgery to repair. You can tell if you have this condition if when you try to do a sit up a ridge forms in the middle of your belly from the sternum to the belly button. Diastasis Recti is also the cause of that lovely tummy “pooge” (as my children call it) that many women have after giving birth. Although it is not painful, neither is it desirable to have. Here are 10 things to know about diastasis recti:
1. This condition is why you would want to start with abdominal exercises after birth. There are two easy exercises that you can do to help with diastasis recti. The first is to suck your stomach in slowly as if you were holding your stomach in to look nice in a swimsuit or to fit in a pair of jeans. The movements should not be rapid, but you should control them slowly. You can do this while sitting or laying down. You can also do modified crunches with a towel wrapped snugly around your torso. Both of these will encourage the abdominal muscles back together.
2. It is important not to do just any abdominal exercises as this could make the problem worse instead of better. When considering what exercises to do, it is best to go to a professional trainer that has experience with diastasis recti. If you can’t afford a trainer consider a video specifically designed for post partum recovery.
3. If diastasis recti isn’t corrected after the first pregnancy, the separation becomes larger and harder to fix after subsequent pregnancies.
4. Diastasis is largely genetic. However, research shows that strengthening your core before and during pregnancy can help significantly in minimizing the effects of diastasis recti.
5. Diastasis should not be ignored. In addition to the general lower back discomfort, it can be associated with complications such as hernia. Furthermore, diastasis left untreated can cause permanent damage to your core.
So after you’ve had the baby, make a point to get an examination to see if you have diastasis. While you’re at home with baby, you can do floor time together, or even do an exercise video with your baby. . .but make sure you take care of the diastasis before it becomes a permanent problem.