What is Diastasis Recti?
A common occurrence during pregnancy. As the abdomen expands the skin,
connective tissue and muscles need to stretch to accommodate the growing baby. The rectus abdominus, the most superficial abdominal muscle, is held together in the midline by what’s called the linea alba, a piece of connective tissue. A growing belly places stress on this tissue causing it seperate. This is a normal part of pregnancy and research suggests that the majority of women will experience a degree of separation in their final trimester.
What can you do?
Firstly you don’t want to obsess over your tummy muscles during pregnancy. As mentioned this is a completely normal part of pregnancy.
It’s important to be aware of the changes that can occur and learn to monitor them which can be done quite easily just by feel. Place your fingers just above your belly button during activity, feel (and look) for any bulging at the midline during activity. It will usually appear as a ridge running down the midline between your abdominals.
If you do notice bulging or ‘doming’ during certain activities I would encourage you to either modify your technique (this may I evolve reducing the weight or changing the position of the exercise) or alternatively eliminating it altogether.
Do you need to see someone?
If you have any concerns by all means ask a professional with knowledge and training in this area such as a physiotherapist.
For some women Diastasis Recti can manifest as pelvic or back pain. Weakening of the lines alba may reduce the ability for the abdominals to provide stability to the pelvic joints which may result in pain. This is very individualised and you physiotherapist will be able to assess this for you.
Can Diatasis Recti be avoided?
A common question and one to which there is no definitive answer!!
The best way to approach Diastasis Recti is to understand what it is, know how to check and feel for it during activity, modify or eliminate movements that place greater strain on the abdominals to potentially assist in reducing the severity of abdominal separation.
What happens in the post partum period?
The majority of women will experience a degree of Diastasis Recti in the third trimester.
In the post natal period for some women their separation will heel with little to no intervention.
Research does show that 1/3 of women have a mild separation at 12 months post partum.
It’s important to note here that in the post partum period it’s not simply a measure of the ‘separation’ but rather we look at your ability to create tension in the linea alba. Regaining control of the abdominal wall is important for longer term stability and postural support. Most women will require some retraining of the abdominal and pelvic floor muscles in the postnatal period to help restore optimal function.
Women should have a post natal visit with their womens health physio prior to returning to exercise.
If you have any questions about any of the above information feel free to contact Em at firstname.lastname@example.org