Diastasis recti after childbirth — how to return to the norm

Every woman after the childbirth wants to return to her ideal forms. Some manage easily and without exhausting physical exercises, others have to make maximum efforts to return to the norm. Some women can’t achieve the desired effect because of diastasis recti or mummy tummy, which means that their abdominal muscles are very stretched.

Diastasis Recti

Diastasis is the abdominal muscle separation in the lower abdomen, which most often develops in women after pregnancy and childbirth. Diastasis recti is observed in more than 35% of pregnant women, so the condition is considered quite common.

Causes of diastasis recti

  • The main reason for the development of diastasis is pregnancy. Your growing fetus exerts a strong pressure on the anterior abdominal cavity and stretches the muscles of your abdomen.
  • The second reason is special hormone — relaxin. It’s a contributing factor to the development of diastasis during pregnancy. Relaxin softens the abdominal muscles and increases their elasticity.

Provoking factors for diastasis

Usually, women who do sports and lead an active lifestyle don’t suffer from diastasis recti.

However, the following factors make women highly susceptible to diastasis recti:

  • Weight during the gestation period.
  • Cellulite
  • Multiple pregnancy.

Diastasis «spoils» the way the waist looks, that’s why let’s talk about methods to combat diastasis in postpartum.

It is important to know that this condition really needs to be treated as diastasis can cause discomfort and pain in the abdomen after physical exercises. Without treatment, diastasis can cause herniation.

How do I know if I have diastasis recti?

diastasis recti pictures

To test whether you have separation of your abdominal muscles, lie down on your back on a flat hard surface (on the floor) with your knees bent. Place your fingers over the center of your abdomen. Nod your chin to your chest and lift your shoulders just a little while contracting your abdominal muscles. Feel the distance between the left and right halves of the abdominal muscles with your fingers, starting at the top and moving down the length toward your pubic bones.

If the size of the gap does not exceed 2 cm, then there is no diastasis.

  • 5−7 cm gap — this is the first stage of diastase
  • more than 7 cm — the second stage
  • more than 10 cm — the third stage

diastasis stages

Diastasis after childbirth: some advice

In order not to worsen your condition, it is very important to adhere to the following recommendations:

  • Hold the baby only when you are sitting.
  • Do not lift anything heavy.
  • Wear a special supporting postnatal bandage.
  • When sneezing, put a palm on your lower abdomen and press it not to stretch the muscles.
  • Keep your back straight.
  • Sleep on the back.
  • Don’t raise your legs while in a lying position.
  • Don’t do exercises like «scissors» or «bicycle», as they stretch the abdominal muscles.
  • Don’t jump.

Exercises to Avoid

  • crunches,
  • sit-ups,
  • oblique (twists) combined with crunches;
  • anything that ‘jack-knifes’ the body,
  • straight leg lifts or holds from lying on your back

Have a look at the exercises, which are forbidden if you have diastasis recti.

Exercises to reduce diastasis recti

  1. Lying on the floor, bend your knees, hands on the floor. Raise the pelvis but DO NOTarch your back. (3 sets of 10 times).
  2. Start on your hands and knees (the hands directly under the shoulders, and the knees under your hips). Keep your back straight. Relax your abdominal muscles forward. Slowly and gently draw your abdominal muscles inwards towards your spine.
  3. Lying on your back with your knees bent, cross your hands at the waist, and begin to guide your stomach muscles together. As you exhale, raise only your head off of the ground. While you lift, pull your muscles together to start lessening the gap.

Do these exercises for diastasis recti three times per day.

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