Diastasis recti is a common occurrence during pregnancy. The medical name refers to the separation of the abdominal muscles (rectus abdominus). According to WebMD, about two-thirds of pregnant women have diastasis recti.
Abdominal muscle separation occurs because pregnancy strains the belly muscles significantly. After the abs separate, only a thin layer of tissue is left underneath. Women may be more likely to develop diastasis recti if they are pregnant past the age of 35, or if they are carrying a large baby or twins.
Diastasis recti can make ordinary physical activities more challenging, according to Dr. Yvonne Butler Tobah. After a woman with diastasis recti has given birth, a physical therapist can give her proper core exercises to help her regain abdominal strength (Mayo Clinic).
A good way to prevent diastasis recti is to strengthen your abs before pregnancy. If you are already pregnant and know that your muscles have separated, avoid exercises like crunches and situps. These can irritate abdominal separation further.
Some physical trainers are also unaware of this condition when they suggest exercises to pregnant women. WebMD lists multiple exercises for pregnant women to avoid if they have diastasis recti, explaining that these can worsen the condition more.
Abdominal muscles can take a significant amount of time to heal after childbirth. Doctors use different exercises to bring the muscles back together (WebMD). Sometimes, a woman does gentle exercises while something (like a splint) supports the muscles.
Diastasis recti is a common condition, though it is infrequently discussed among pregnant mothers. If you are pregnant, be aware of your abdominal muscles, especially if you are carrying multiples or are past the age of thirty-five. And if you already have diastasis recti after childbirth, a trainer can help you regain abdominal strength and healing through different exercises.
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Jenna Phipps is a writer, editor, and dancer based in Nashville, Tennessee. She enjoys working with other people to improve their writing, taking long road trips, experimenting with choreography, and reading many novels.