We all know that pregnancy changes the female body significantly over the 40 weeks a little one takes to develop. Some of these changes completely disappear after birth, some take a little longer, and some can stick around and affect the body for years to come. Diastasis recti (DR), or separation of the abdominals near the belly button, is one of those pregnancy changes that can have a lasting impact on the female body. Women with a diastasis show symptoms of back pain, a feeling of fatigue in the abdominals, and visible pouching of the abdominals with face-down activity (bending over, planks, etc.).
If you feel you are experiencing a DR, know you are not alone. A research study found that 66% of women in their 3rd trimester experience this.1 While it is a fairly common problem, however, it is an important one to address. Your abdominals provide support for internal organs as well as for your bone structure. Considering you have a new little one to care for, you’re going to need those abs! And earlier intervention allows better healing. If you have recently had a baby, your provider may check you for a DR at your 6 week check. If you feel these symptoms sound familiar, it is also fairly easy to check yourself (see the diagram below).
There are multiple methods to re-train your core, but it is important to understand how to begin and progress through this process to avoid worsening the separation. Whether you are 6 weeks post-partum or it has been years since you’ve had a child, your physical therapist can help you reduce both the size and effects of an abdominal diastasis. Your PT can also help to address any specific areas you may be particularly affected, including returning to strenuous activity if you so desire!
*image courtesty of MuTusystem.com