You’ve carried your little one for 9 months. But, 9 months postpartum you are still having trouble losing the excess weight around your core? The answer may be this often ignored condition called, Diastasis Recti.
When you are pregnant, your stomach stretches to accommodate the baby growing inside of you. Your stomach will stretch where there is the least resistance. Which is usually right down the middle.
In some cases, the fitter you were or the harder your abs were before pregnancy, actually can make it more difficult to snap back!
What is Diastasis Recti?
Diastasis (which means separation) recti (outer abdominal muscles) are the separation of the outermost abdominal muscles. When the muscles separate the connective tissue joining this muscle stretches sideways. The job of these muscles (called rectus abdominis) is to support your back and your organs.
100% of moms have some level of Diastasis Recti by the third trimester. Even men can acquire this condition from fad dieting or from performing incorrect weightlifting techniques.
Your chances of ab separation are increased when having a child after age 35, delivering twins/triplets, or have more than one child.
Although diastasis isn’t painful and is not typically obvious until the postpartum period, it can sometimes be detected around the 25-week mark during pregnancy via a physical exam or ultrasound.
Signs during pregnancy is when the belly takes on a cone or dome-shaped look when you activate your abdominal muscles as you’re leaning back on the couch or trying to sit up in bed
Other signs include:
• Weakness in core
• Low back pain
• A bulging belly
• Poor Posture
• Outie belly button
• Half football bulge when bringing the shoulders off the floor
• A belly that gets bigger after eating and at the end of the day
• Urine leaking while laughing or sneezing
A lot of moms say their core feels weak when they go to pick up something like a bag of groceries—it feels like there’s nothing there
Diastasis is not bad—it’s what your body is naturally supposed to do to accommodate the growth of your baby. Postpartum, it’s bringing the abs back together and restoring function in those muscles that are important.
So why should you care if your muscles are separated?
Because separated muscles are weak muscles. Separated muscles cannot do their job of supporting your back and organs. To achieve a strong core, your muscles must be close together. The sideways stretching of the connective tissue causes it to become thinner and weaker.
So, what happens is this weak saran wrap-like connective tissue is NOT effectively supporting your belly button, low back, and organs. They are only supported when the muscles are close together.
What are the effects of a diastasis on the body?
Back pain, abdominal hernias, poor posture, pelvic floor problems, gastrointestinal disturbances like constipation and bloating are all effects of a diastasis.
They occur when the support system for the back and organs are the weak connective tissue instead of the muscles. Most women who have had a baby do have diastasis recti.
Steps for testing
• Lie down on your back with both knees bent
• Place your index and middle finger directly above your belly button.
• Raise your head and shoulders off the supporting surface and feel for any gap or dip under your fingers. Note the width and depth of separation.
• Lower your head and shoulders back to starting position
Repeat this test 1-2 inches below your belly button and about 1-2 inches below your sternum.
Clinically, Diastasis Recti is defined by a separation > 2.5 cm wide, this is about 2 fingers wide. But it is really the depth that indicates how strong your connective tissue is which is what will keep your tummy in.
And the difference in depth when engaged which shows how well your TVAs are firing.
How to heal Diastasis Recti
Don’t freak out if you’re less than eight weeks postpartum—healing takes time. During this period, some women are lucky enough to have what is called a “spontaneous recovery,” meaning the connective tissue linking the large ab muscles knits back together or comes close enough to restore normal core function.
Most women will say, ‘I look like I’m still five months pregnant. I’ve lost my weight, and I’m back in my normal jeans, except for my tummy. Usually, it’s not baby weight. It’s the diastasis.
I’ve known some of my clients to wear corsets to bring the abs back together. Unfortunately, this a short-lived option because you still are not addressing the muscles of the core.
Before you get down on the floor to exercise and do 100 crunches a day. You should know that most common core exercises—crunches, abdominal twists and, when done incorrectly, planks—can all worsen the condition.
The best ab exercises for women with diastasis are the ones that target the deep core stabilizers.
These exercises tend to be low impact exercise that won’t even make you break a sweat. They are just as effective and more beneficial for your condition than you dong a 30min core class at the gym.
Things you should avoid:
Avoid traditional crunches, sit-ups, and planks postpartum until your abdomen is healed from diastasis recti. These exercises can make the condition worse.
• Strenuous exercises where your ab muscles are bulging out
• Holding your baby on one hip, if it’s painful
• Lifting or carrying heavy loads
• Coughing without supporting your ab muscles
If you have any questions please comment below, and if this was useful for you please share this article. Don’t let other mommy’s wonder WHY they can’t regain their flat belly.
It’s never too late to get it looked at. There’s always something you can do!
For more information on how to heal Diastasis Recti visit: www.mikejonestoday.com
For 30 Day core correcting program: http://www.mikejonestoday.com/coreclass