Diastasis recti happens when rectus abdominis muscles separate during or after pregnancy. Our uterus expands during pregnancy, when the fetus grows up, the abdominals are stretched and the linea alba thins and pulls apart. The tissue loses its elasticity from being overstretched, thus the gap in the abdomen becomes bigger.
It affects 60% of people and usually resolves within eight weeks after delivery. About 40% of those who have diastasis recti still have it by six months postpartum.
How Do We Measure Diastasis Recti?
Diastasis recti are measured by the number of fingers that fit between the two rectus abdominis muscle bellies.
Normal = 1 finger space separation or less
Diastasis recti = The gap between the rectus abdominis muscles of 2 or more finger spaces / a distance of 25 mm
Certain degrees of abdominal separation are normal and expected after pregnancy. Here are some tips to reduce the risk of developing diastasis recti:
Maintain a healthy weight gain during pregnancy: Keep being active and consume healthy foods. Ensure weight gains are within a healthy range.
Deep breathing Exercises: Stand up straight and take deep breaths. Slowly allow your ribs to expand and not just your belly.
Don’t do aggressive core exercises: Avoid exercises like sit-ups and crunches which might apply too much pressure on your abdominals, especially after the 12th weeks of pregnancy and postpartum.
Proper lifting technique: Lifting grocery bags or your children can put undue strain on your abdominals.
Log roll and side lying when getting out of bed: Slowly roll to one side and use your arms to push you out of bed.
There you have it! If you just started life as a mother, do check it out on yourself and practice the tips above! And if you need further assistance or help, do not hesitate to contact us or any physiotherapist nearby to you 😊
Brauman, D. (2008). Diastasis recti: clinical anatomy. Plastic and reconstructive surgery, 122(5), 1564-1569.
Michalska, A., Rokita, W., Wolder, D., Pogorzelska, J., & Kaczmarczyk, K. (2018). Diastasis recti abdominis—a review of treatment methods. Ginekologia polska, 89(2), 97-101.
Ng Xin Yi
Your Physio Kepong