Diastasis Recti: Help for the post-pregnant belly

by Jennifer Holland, BS, Pre-/Post Natal Fitness Specialist

A diastasis recti (say "dye-AS-sta-SIS rect-eye"), or abdominal separation, happens in a large percentage of pregnancies, usually occurring sometime in the latter half of pregnancy. A diastasis is when the left half and right half of the rectus abdominus (the "six pack" abs that run up and down) migrate apart because of the widening and thinning of the connective tissue that joins both sides. This separation occurs because of the force of the growing uterus against the abdominal wall, and also because of hormones ("relaxin" - the hormone that softens connective tissue) and weight gain. (If you haven't seen Rebecca's Diastasis Self-Check video, click HERE to watch it and perform the self test. Or watch video below - if it doesn't show, hit Refresh!)


A diastasis is typically measured in finger widths - how many of your own fingers fit into the gap. One finger is pretty normal, two to three finger widths is a diastasis, and if it's four or more finger widths, it's super-critical that you work on rehabilitating your abs.

Before we dive in more, let's debunk some major myths about diastasis recti.

MYTH 1: Abdominal separation causes permanent damage to core muscles that cannot be repaired
MYTH 2: Abdominal separation can only be fixed with surgery
MYTH 3: Abdominal separation leaves women with a bulgy "jelly belly" that will not go away
MYTH 4: Abdominal separation causes pain and will leave your abs weaker forever

These are ALL untrue! FALSE!

Only in serious cases would surgery be required, but for most of us, there IS HELP! :) I've read about women closing a 6-7 finger-width diastasis on their own.

In some cases, a diastasis will correct itself and close naturally after birth. However for most post-partum women, specific techniques and exercises, and in some cases, short-term use of a therapeutic abdominal support garment is needed to close this gap and regain abdominal integrity. (We have some belly support options for ya here at Salt Lake Prenatal Massage).

There are several reasons to repair your postpartum belly. First of all, diastasis recti reduces the integrity and functional strength of the abdominal wall which can lead to lower back pain, pelvic instability (hyper mobile joints), inadequate protection to your internal organs, and core instability. Second, diastasis causes a bulging of the tummy which is a cosmetic negative drawback for many.

But have no fear! There are several techniques and easy exercises you can do every day to regain your abdominal integrity, close your abdominal separation and actually increase your abdominal strength to decrease your chances of separation in future pregnancies.

To delve into these techniques and learn more on what NOT to do (crunches and situps worsen the condition) and what to DO to close the separation, register for our new Ab Solution Seminar by emailing info@SLCPrenatalMassage.com.

Our next 90 minute Ab Solution Seminar is Saturday, December 4th 2013, from 4-6pm.

The cost is $40.

Five person minimum required to hold class. Preregistration is required. 

To register or ask questions, call 801-706-7680 or email info@slcprenatalmassage.com