It sure would’ve been nice to know that I would still look pregnant months after giving birth. This is a statement I see time and time again when scrolling through the social media vs real life posts.
I must say I couldn’t agree more when it comes to the infamous “mom pooch”.
Introducing Diastasis Recti
If you want to understand what Diastasis Recti is, find out if you have it and know how to realistically fix it then you’re in the right place.
Many moms think it’s the baby weight and have no clue what’s going on (*raising my hand*). So you try all of the things trying to fix it or even worse you believe there is no fix.
I mean it’s hard to fix something when you don’t know the cause or solution, right?
Diastasis recti can be uncomfortable and maybe even a little embarrassing if people ask you when you’re due. I mean seriously, who does that?
Anyways, first of all don’t be embarrassed. You grew a human and you’re body will heal and recover in it’s own time which is right on time. I’ll give you some insight to what’s going on and some pointers to start correcting the common, and normal, condition.
Back to reality
Let’s go back to that whole social media vs real life situation for a second.
Have you seen the side by side comparison of the social highlight reel next to the same person in real life? It’s hilarious, reassuring and about time. I’m loving it.
Pressure and unrealistic results can come from seeing other moms on social media bounce back right after birth like it’s nothing. It’s totally possible if that’s your body type, but again, not the norm.
A closer look at Diastasis Recti
What is normal is Diastasis Recti and there’s not enough patient counseling on the topic. I mean, a woman would appreciate a little heads up!
If you can’t tell by now, I had diastasis recti that lasted longer than I expected. It took a while to reconnect with my core and start closing my gap but I did it.
I want to save you some time and stress. Here are some frequently asked questions with quick tips to help you not only understand diastasis recti, but start fixing it too.
Diastasis Recti FAQs
1. What is Diastasis Recti?
Diastasis means separation and rectus refers to the rectus abdominals. Basically during pregnancy the abs separate.
It’s after the pregnancy where they may take their time, or need some help, closing the separation gap.
This gap is what we so lovingly refer to as “the mom pooch”. The abdominals weaken from pregnancy hormones and increasing pressure as the baby gets bigger.
2. Does Diastasis Recti go away?
Diastasis Recti typically heals on its own anywhere from 6 weeks to 3 months. Healing exercises can be done to try to assist healing if the separation continues past the 3 month mark.
3. How do I test for Diastasis Recti?
Lie flat on your back with bent knees and the soles of your feet flat on the floor.
Place one hand behind your head for support
The other hand is going to feel for separation. Keeping your fingers together, place them on your abs with your palm facing your face.
Next, you lift your head up as if to do a crunch. This is because you want the abs to be in a contracted state to get accurate results.
Now count how many fingertips fit into the separation. Hand placement is key so remember, your palm is facing you.
Test 3 places : at, above and below your belly button
Results indicating DR are :
- Separation of more than 2.5 finger widths
- A small protrusion along the midline (referred to as a “mound”)
- The gap does not tighten as you crunch up
4. How can I realistically fix Diastasis Recti?
Physical therapy works to help you correctly contract the transverse abdominal muscle. Effective isolation of the transverse abdominis helps to work towards closing the gap and may take the help of a physical therapist to develop the focus and mind body connection to find and manipulate that muscle.
Below is a workout that I found to be very helpful.
What to avoid?
Avoid exercises that compress the gap in a lengthwise fashion and also exercises that strain the abs in a stretching motion.
A few of those include, but are not limited to sit ups, double leg raises, intense planks and bicycles.
5. What is a realistic time line for healing Diastasis Recti?
Thankfully it’s not one of things that you have limited time to fix which is good because lots of women don’t even know they have it.
Of course, the sooner you start therapy the better, but it can go years and still be able to close.
The length of recovery , like any workout regimen, will depend on the severity of the gap and consistency and quality of training.
On average, if you identify a smaller gap, start treatment early and stay consistent with only the right exercises then you should see that gap pretty much closed around 12 weeks.
Again, this is on average from what I have read and every mom is different.
More exercises for Diastasis Recti
Here are some sample exercises to get you started.
- Body weight squat
- Glute bridge
- Side plank
Do complete a side plank, support your body weight on your side with straight legs and feet together. Your forearm is directly below your shoulder. Contract your core and raise your hips off the floor and towards the ceiling. Lower back down to the floor with control
It’s not always about the ab burn
Even though some of these exercises are not directed towards the abs, they work muscles that support and strengthen the core which will help that gap start to close.
It takes time, it does not change over night but it these exercise will boost your confidence and start you well on your way to recovery.
Be sure to let me know what you tried and what works for you.
Document your journey
Sometimes when we’re in the midst of it all we can’t see the forest from the trees.
Document your journey to closing the gap so you can accurately account for your success and marvel in it!
Test your gap on a regular basis making notes about how you feel and the exercises you’re doing.
Create a plan that will keep you on track and get that plan documented on your calendar to hold yourself accountable.
Not only does the Diastasis start to heal with proper treatment but you will be feeling better, getting into shape and enjoy this part of your postpartum journey to feeling and looking like you again. And if you look like a different version of you that’s beautiful too!
Who doesn’t love a bonus?
These exercises will help improve your activities of daily living because they concentrate on the core.
That means toting a toddler, carrying groceries upstairs, even squatting and bending to do laundry all just got much easier on your body. Boom!
Get ready to improve your physical function and well being mama.
Let’s go from wondering why you still looked pregnant to knowing how to fix the problem with a plan in less time.