Disastasis Recti refers to any type of abdominal separation. While it can occur in newborns and others, a very specific form affects pregnant women. It can appear during the pregnancy or even after giving birth. Having more than one baby or carrying multiple infants (such as twins and triplets) can increase the chances that the rectus abdominus will separate. These muscles run lenthwise up the midline of the abdomen and are a key to a tight, strong core.
Normally, there is no abdominal separation of these midline muscles but when the body is stressed by pregnancy or an underlying or congenital weakness, a Diastasis Recti can occur. Early symptoms of Abdominal Separation may include nothing more than a bit of loose skin around the abdomen. The abdominal separation and the symptoms of Diastasis Recti tend to worsen as the pregnancy progresses.
An obstetrician can often diagnose Diastasis Recti but so can an observant mother-to-be. Unlike typical pregnancies, the stomach and abdominal area will seem to bulge out more than usual and in serious cases the shape of the baby can even be clearly seen due to the muscle separation. Simple observation and self-tests can help women determine if abdominal separation is starting to occur.
A quick home examination can help women determine if they may be showing signs of Diastasis Recti. Lying down, back against the floor and belly facing the ceiling, is the proper position to check for the separation of the rectus muscles. The knees should be bent in a comfortable position but with the bottom of the feet on the floor. At this point, the rectus muscles should be easily felt on either side of the navel. It may be necessary to put a hand behind the head (but don’t lift the head off the floor) while pushing down and feeling the proper muscles. Regular self examinations should be conducted throughout the pregnancy, especially if there is a family tendency to have issues.
Other symptoms include the normal pregnancy bulge appearing larger than it should early in the pregnancy (and the mother is not carrying twins or triplets), this may be more than just “showing early.” It could be the beginnings of Diastasis Recti. As with any medical question you should contact your doctor if you have any questions regarding your health. A certified prenatal fitness specialist is uniquely qualified to help you minimize the abdominal separation during your pregnancy and help you get your flat stomach back after delivery.
Women frequently ask if this condition be treated so that the abdominal muscles return to normal. The answer is yes, however early detection and the appropriate exercises increase the likelihood that you’ll quickly return to your pre-pregnancy state.
After the baby is born, working with a certified postnatal fitness specialist who understands which exercises will help Diastasis Recti (Abdominal Separation) can be crucial. Simply doing endless situps is not going to reduce the existing separation. The right exercises, done with correct body position can make all the difference in reducing the appearance of a baby belly.
Postnatal exercise specialists work with clients to increase core strength and a give a flatter appearance to the abdomen, reducing or eliminating any bulges. The wrong type of abdominal exercise can actually make the problem worse so it’s important to consult with someone that is well-versed in the specific needs of a postnatal woman.