Diastasis Recti: Facts about Your Post-baby Belly
Does your belly still look pregnant for a few months after childbirth? Plenty of first time mothers have a saggy and loose belly. Even though they try their best to get their pre-pregnancy weight back through diet control, they have no idea with their postpartum belly to fit into their pre-pregnancy jeans. What’s worse, you will be asked “when is your due date” while you are with your baby. Sadly to tell, this is one of the symptoms of abdominal separation, which is also called diastasis recti.
Diastasis recti is a medical term when rectus muscles separate abnormally during pregnancy. Usually the separation of 1.5-2cm is considered abnormal. Almost 98+% of women face this problems, especially when they
- Have more than 1 pregnancy
- Have twins, triplets or multiples
- Have an abdominal problem before
How does it happen?
Your abdominal muscles and the linea alba (the white line in the middle where your abdominal muscles meet) will be stretched out for a long time due to the enlarging uterus to allow the fetus to grow during pregnancy. This causes two abdominal muscles to separate. After you deliver the baby, the abdominal muscles and tissues lose the elasticity and the ability to get back to their original position like an overstretched rubber band when the hormone levels are back to pre-pregnancy level.
How to check if you have diastasis recti?
- Lie on your back and bent your knee, then slightly lift up your back.
- Place your fingers on your belly and put your fingertip on your belly button. You will see a gap at your belly.
3.Take note of the width of the gap around your belly button. 1-2 finger-widths is normal, more than 3 finger-widths can be considered as diastasis recti.
Symptoms of Diastasis Recti
You may not easily notice the symptoms during the first half of your pregnancy, but you can take note of it nearly the end of your second trimester and start of your third trimester. Lower back pain, weaker abdominal muscles, a bulge at your abdomen or poor posture can be one of the symptoms when you find you can hardly use your core muscles to lift up objects.
How to treat?
You are encouraged to start with some simple and easy-at-home exercises to rebuild your core after doctor’s permission. Do take note to avoid crunches and planking. Instead, you can try belly breathing, side planks, C-Curving, pelvic tits on hands and knees. You can easily find the videos of core exercises and ab exercises to fix diastasis recti on Youtube.
Many women may start doing research for postpartum belly bands or splints or binder during pregnancy. Belly band can be worn immediately after delivery to shrink down your uterus and help repair diastasis recti. Remember to wear a belly band in conjunction with exercises which are approved by your doctor.
Usually you may fix your diastasis recti within six month by appropriate exercise. If you find the rehab exercises do not resolve your diastasis recti, talk with your doctor if you consider a surgical repair.