Have you been trying to find answers to heal your Diastasis Recti and hearing some really disheartening information? Don't believe everything you read, there’s a lot of misleading information out there. It seems that Diastasis Recti has become a buzz word recently, and social media and the fitness world can often inspire confusion on the topic, stoking fear in expecting and new Moms.
Let’s clarify a few things and shed some light on Diastasis Recti!
Myth 1: It’s all about the gap
Any kind abdominal separation is NOT necessarily a Diastasis Recti.
The rectus abdominis (6-pack muscles) is not, has never been and will never be, one solid muscle. Medically speaking, a separation of two finger widths or more is considered a Diastasis Recti - but not everyone with a 2 finger gap should be put in the DR category!
The problem lies with function. We need to consider the ability of the Mother to create core connection and tension along the linea alba to manage intra abdominal pressure. We often measure the width of the gap, but we should especially examine the depth of the gap, as this indicates the health of the connective tissue and core strength.
If you have a firm 2 finger gap – your core can be functional – You can create tension in your ab midline and control intra-abdominal pressure. You have a “functional” Diastasis Recti.
If you have a squishy 2 finger gap, then there’s a good chance that your connective tissue has lost integrity and may not carry tension well. Your core is weakened, disconnected – You have a Diastasis recti (if that’s your case, keep reading to learn how to heal it!)
Myth 2: Diastasis recti can't be prevented
During pregnancy, EVERY women experiences some degree of abdominal separation, which is completely normal. The 2 sides of the rectus abdominis (six-pack muscles) separate along the mid line of connective tissue called linea alba that holds them together.
This separation is nature’s way to accommodate the growing baby – the connective tissue is designed to stretch. This separation is essential to limit harmful intra abdominal pressure! For this reason it’s useless to test for a diastasis recti during pregnancy – once again: a certain degree of ab separation is normal!
This being said, it’s very important to protect our core and linea alba through a healthy weight gain, proper posture, proper breathing pattern and safe core exercises to prevent a severe Diastasis Recti from forming. Pregnancy is the perfect time to re-connect with your core in every essence of the term.
Learning how to move and breathe with your growing belly, strengthening your core safely, and limit stress and strain on weakened areas is key to maintaining core connection and limiting the gap to a healthy ab separation. That is the purpose of my Mommy Body Bliss – Pregnancy Workout Routine & Wellness Plan
Myth 3: You need to wait for your postpartum check up appointment to heal your Diastasis Recti
With their Doctors’ approval, most new Moms can begin the recovery process immediately after childbirth – regardless the way they gave birth.
Once postpartum, the linea alba can regenerate but it needs special attention and care to give the tissue the best chance to heal properly.
The 6 first weeks after birth are critical – and that’s why I’ve created an Immediate postpartum program (from 0 to 8 weeks) to help new Moms bodies make the best of this healing time. Very gentle exercises based on abdominal breathing are hugely beneficial to safely awaken your core along with your pelvic floor muscles to progressively regain your strength, recover quickly, and properly.
Learn more here: Exercise after Childbirth
Myth 4: Specific postpartum exercises can heal your Diastasis Recti
Specific postnatal core rehab exercises can re-strengthen your core and tighten the gap. Closing the ab midline is usually the primary goal of Mothers suffering from diastasis recti, though it’s not always fully possible. However, don’t feel disheartened!
Re-strengthening your core with diastasis recti exercises, firming the gap, and learning how to manage intra abdominal pressure can flatten the belly, allow you to live pain/symptom free, and safely resume more dynamic and strenuous activities.
This being said, surgery is sometimes the best option for the most severe cases, but I highly recommend going the surgery route as the very last option. It’s important to remember that surgery addresses the result of damage, not the cause. If you never address the cause of the damage it will keep reoccurring. Specific postnatal exercises address the cause. Surgery or not, it’s vital you restrengthen and rehabilitate your core.
Myth 5: If you have a “mummy pooch” you have Diastasis Recti
Many Mothers end up with a distended abdomen – but don’t have any ab separation. Resuming the “wrong” exercises and neglecting daily posture often lead to a protruding belly, commonly called “mummy tummy”.
There’s a knowledge gap and lack of understanding in the fitness world, putting new Moms at risks of unknowingly harming themselves. Some women will do insane amounts of crunches to regain strengthen and flatten their stomach. Sadly crunches can’t fix the underlying issue.
Over-exercising the superficial abdominal muscles (6-pack) can lead to muscle imbalances because the 6-pack muscles become much stronger than your transverse (deepest ab muscle layer) and pelvic floor muscles. This very common mistake encourages pelvic floor dysfunction, ab separation, and a round belly. Taking the incorrect approach one can easily end up doing more harm than good, taking you further away from your fitness goals!
Many women are unaware they don’t need crunches to have strong and toned abs. Their abs can be stronger and better looking using abdominal breathing exercises. A technique thousands of women have already experienced following my Better Body after Baby program - Lose the Post Baby Belly!
Myth 6: You have to wear a corset to heal your Diastasis Recti
You don’t “have to” wear a splint or corset to heal. Right after childbirth, new Moms often experience extreme fatigue and core weakness. A girdle can help you feel “secure” and “supported”. It can also encourage you work on your posture and prevent too much stress and strain on the loosened ab mid line. I wore a girdle from BelleFit and loved it! Just make sure you chose the right size as you don’t want to squish your abdomen too much which puts pressure on your fragile pelvic floor and could lead to dysfunctions such as incontinence or even Prolapse!
After the immediate postpartum period, continuously wearing any type of external support garment can do more harm than good. Relying on a girdle/splint/corset can erode core strength and stability, prevent proper breathing pattern, and prevent full postpartum recovery.
Myth 7: If you don’t heal your Diastasis recti right away, then it’s too late!
Fortunately, it’s NEVER too late to make improvements! Even if you had your last baby years ago, you can still use postnatal exercises to build proper abdominal and pelvic floor function and banish your back pain, incontinence, and post-pregnancy belly!
You body has the ability to regenerate constantly and it does this according to movement patterns and nutrition. With better habits your body regenerates in a better way.
Some of the women participating in my Better Body after Baby program are new Moms, but others are 30+ years postpartum. It’s a journey, but with time, consistency and work, they all experience great results!