abdominal separation: diastasis recti during or after pregnancy

Have you noticed a bulge in your tummy during pregnancy or after having a baby? If you’re still pregnant it might look like a little cone or dome on the midline of your belly. And, postpartum, you might look like you have a ‘pooch’ or ‘mum tum’ that sticks out. This bulge can be either above or below the belly button, can vary in size and depth and can impact your daily movement. This is Diastasis Recti. We asked the team from Fit 4 Two to tell us what we need to know.

abdominal separation: diastasis recti during or after pregnancy diagram

What is Diastasis Recti & why do we get it?

In the therapeutic and rehabilitative world, the colloquial “coning” is better known as “Diastasis Rectus Abdominus” or simply DRA. This is when there is a weakening or separation of the rectus abdominus muscle (six pack) at the level of the linea alba (the connective tissue found between the two columns of soft tissue) due to a prolonged transverse stress in the abdominal area… we’re looking at you kid encased in that ever-expanding uterus!

While almost 80% of pregnant women will experience Diastasis Recti, it can affect women who haven’t given birth and men, too, who are just as susceptible to the little “doming phenomenon” that causes a pyramidical bulging of the midline with certain trunk movements.

If you had Diasasis Recti during your pregnancy, it’s likely that there it’s still there postpartum, but possibly to a lesser extent now that that your little one has vacated your uterus.

abdominal separation: diastasis recti during or after pregnancy diagram

Should I be worried about Diasasis Recti?

Aesthetically it seems to be more worrisome than anything. However, there is speculation as to whether or not having this extra little bulge can contribute to chronic lower back pain and other lumbo pelvic disorders. It’s stands to reason that if the central column of support is starting to show some cracks, that the biomechanical functionality has been compromised as a whole.

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Can you prevent Diastasis Recti? And what can be done if you already have it?

We’re big believers in prevention being better than cure, which is why at Fit 4 Two we focus on ensuring that the appropriate deep abdominal activating sequence is established during our exercise sessions.

However, if you are already experiencing Diastasis Recti or continue to experience it post partum, there are ways to try and diminish the overall impact of it. This would involve specific exercises recommended by professionals with experience treating abdominal separation. There are many therapeutic tools available to assist with this unwelcome side effect of pregnancy, we’ve just got to find the right one for you!

Will Diastasis Recti go away on its own?

The linea alba, where the separation takes place, is a connective tissue that isn’t likely to repair itself due to the nature of the tissue structure. What we can do is try to control the “adaptable soft tissue” surrounding the area of weakness or biomechanical inefficiency at it’s varying depths and breadths.

There is a surgical repair option, however we would advise that this is an absolute last resort and obviously depends on your specific condition. Don’t compare yourself to others who have (or have had) Diastasis Recti: this is your body, your belly and your bulge!

And here’s a handy video from Fit4Two which explains it a bit more:

Written by Bailey MacDiarmid.

fit4two team
We are a specialised pre- and post-natal exercise programme, developed by Biokineticists Gill Scheepers and Kayla Forbes in 2015. This unique programme has been designed using scientific and medical principles. Classes are provided to you by qualified Biokineticists, who have gone through additional training to become Fit 4 Two instructors - ensuring effective, safe and fun sessions. Our programme is divided into pre- and post-natal classes, all of which take place in a safe indoor environment, but can also be accessed online via live stream if you can’t make it in studio – or alternatively, pre-recorded content can be found on our Fit 4 Two app.