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How To Fix Diastasis Recti

How To Fix Diastasis Recti?

Diastasis recti is very common among pregnant and postpartum women. In fact, some doctors say that the condition occurs with every woman throughout this time. 

It happens when the abdominal muscles separate during pregnancy due to being stretched, and this makes a bulge or overhanging belly which can stay the same for some time postpartum. 

As a result, it can play on many mothers’ minds and become an area of self consciousness, so many women will ask if there is a way they can fix this condition. 

Luckily there are a number of exercises you can do which can help to fix diastasis recti. Our guide below explains how, along with plenty of other handy tips. 

How to know if you have diastasis recti

Some symptoms of diastasis recti can include:

  • A clear bulge, sometimes called a “pooch” which hangs below or above the belly button
  • A soft feeling, similar to jelly around your tummy
  • A kind of dome around your tummy when you contract your abs 
  • Trouble lifting things or doing everyday tasks

What Is Diastasis Recti?

Before we go on any further, it’s a good idea that we explain exactly what diastasis recti is. As we briefly mentioned, it’s a condition which is caused during pregnancy when the abdominal muscles (otherwise known as the six pack muscles) separate due to stretching.

These muscles are divided left to right by a band of tissue known as the linea alba which is located in the center. During pregnancy, your uterus expands and these muscles are stretched, while the linea alba thins and pulls apart.

The tissue continues to widen and pushes outwards. Once your baby is born though, these muscles can retract (similar to a rubber band) and the linea alba can begin to repair itself. 

However, when the tissue loses its elasticity due to overstretching, the gap in between the abdominal muscles does not close as much as it should – and this is specifically known as diastasis recti.

Women with diastasis recti will notice their tummy might stick out which can sometimes make you appear still pregnant, despite giving birth months or years ago. 

Symptoms Of Diastasis Recti

Most people will be unaware of diastasis recti until they are postpartum. While you can have diastasis recti during pregnancy, it’s pretty difficult to distinguish because your abdomen is already stretched.

However, during the postpartum period, you can notice some common symptoms of diastasis recti. These include, but are not limited to:

    • A clear bulge, sometimes called a “pooch” which hangs below or above the belly button 

    • A soft feeling, similar to jelly around your tummy 

    • A kind of dome around your tummy when you contract your abs 

    • Trouble lifting things or doing everyday tasks

    • Painful sexual intercourse 

    • Bad posture 

    • Lower back pain 

    • Leaking urine when you sneeze or cough 

    • Weakness in your abdominal area 

    • Constipation 

It’s important to note that not everybody is the same, so you may not experience some of these symptoms whereas another person might. In any case, you may still have diastasis recti. 

How To Fix Diastasis Recti?

Now that we’re aware of what diastasis recti and how you might diagnose it, you’re probably asking yourself if there are ways you can fix it. As we alluded to earlier, to fix diastasis recti – you just need to follow an exercise program of gentle abdominal movements.

How-To-Fix-Diastasis-Recti

However, before you dive right into any exercise programs, you need to ensure that you are safe to perform the specific exercises with diastasis recti. You can do this by speaking to the course instructor.

Additionally, you should be working with a physical therapist and a professional in fitness who has experience with people who have diastasis recti. While this might sound like a big ask, there are plenty of these experts out there! 

They can help to devise a fitness plan and treatment plan to make sure you are performing all the moves correctly and then you can progress to more challenging movements at the correct time. 

What To Avoid And Adjustments?

There are certain movements which can make your separation in the abdomen worse. Within the postpartum period, there are some modifications you can make – but be sure to speak with your professionals that we mentioned first.

  • Avoid lifting anything which is heavier than your baby 
  • Avoid any exercises which push your abdomen outwards, like sit-ups, crunches, pull-ups etc. 
  • When you are sitting up or getting out of bed, roll onto your side first and use your arms primarily to push yourself upwards 

We should point out here that some people choose to use elastic belly bands, which are sometimes known as binding devices. However, there’s little evidence that these make a massive difference. 

Wearing these belly bands will not heal your diastasis recti and they do not help to strengthen your back or abdominal muscles. On the other hand, wearing one might remind you of your condition and potentially promote good posture.

Is Surgery Necessary?

Surgery is almost never used to fix diastasis recti. Most healthcare providers will agree that physical therapy and exercises which you can perform at home are the best idea. However, there are some exceptions.

In the case of a hernia – some doctors might deem it necessary to perform surgery which can fix both conditions. Aside from this, any surgery would be merely superficial (such as a tummy tuck). 

Prevention Of Diastasis Recti

Some women will ask if there is a way to completely avoid diastasis recti. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to prevent abdominal stretching and separation. However, you may be able to reduce the severity of diastasis recti.

The first thing you can do is gain weight during pregnancy in a healthy way. You will put weight on during pregnancy, and of course you will need to eat more than you did before. However, it’s important to eat the right foods and gain weight healthily. 

It’s also a good idea to perform safe and controlled exercises during pregnancy that your doctor may recommend. However, as we said – it’s not possible to completely avoid diastasis recti. 

That being said, you can help to manage the symptoms and fix diastasis recti much more quickly if you follow your physical therapist’s advice and treatment plan. Remember not to do too much postpartum though, because you need to focus on your recovery.

The Bottom Line 

There are ways you can help to treat diastasis recti, but remember that it is a common condition. You need to be careful throughout your recovery, so always get professional advice before you do any exercise. 

Mom doing bridge exercise with her baby balancing on her legs

Frequently Asked Questions 

How Long Does It Take To Heal With Diastasis Recti?

The time to heal diastasis recti will depends on the severity of your abdominal separation. For more tailored advice on this, you need to speak with your doctor. 

Can I Get Diastasis Recti More Than Once?

Yes, you can get diastasis recti again and again if you get pregnant more than once. This is the case if your diastasis recti has healed or not the first time too. 

Is It Too Late To Fix My Diastasis Recti?

It’s never too late to treat your diastasis recti. With the right exercises, you can successfully heal it. 

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