Diastasis Recti..... What is it?
If you have heard of this symptom but have no idea what this common pregnancy issue is, then please read on as its explained by our Resident Expert Pre and Post Natal Exercise Specialist Lily Gredley.
Basically, Diastasis Recti is the stretching of the area (facia) down the middle of your stomach in between the six pack muscles. It happens to everyone at some point in their pregnancy to make enough room for the baby.
Everything happens for a reason!
It is not to be feared as it clearly happens for a very good reason but it does make that mid line of your stomach muscles weaker so we do like to avoid doing certain things that put too much pressure on the abs like sitting up out of bed.
You may notice your stomach starts bulging out down the middle or “doming”. Instead roll on to your side and push yourself up with your arm. This is why we should avoid doing direct ab exercises and planks in pregnancy after the first trimester.
Diastasis often heals by itself in the first 6 to 8 weeks after birth but after this time, if it’s still not healed, you may want to give it a helping hand by seeing a pre and post natal personal trainer or pelvic health physiotherapist.
Above image shows what Diastasis Recti may look like post pregnancy.
If this is the case, I would again avoid doing any direct ab work as this can turn out to be counter productive. Everyone is so individual in what movements can help or hinder their progress.
One thing that does really help everyone with no exceptions is breathing. If exercising, try breathing out on the hardest part of the exercise (as this naturally engages the core and pelvic floor) which is usually going against gravity. Holding your breath will create internal pressure so keep reminding yourself.
It is possible to still have diastasis years after you have had children and not realise it. You may be experiencing back pain or have a “mum pooch” you can’t seem to get rid of no matter how well you eat or how much you exercise. Your abdominal muscles are also connected to your pelvic floor so you could experience leaking when you run, jump or even just sneeze.
So many women joke about this but it can’t be fun to live with and in some cases really debilitating and cause anxiety. But it does not need to stay this way - you absolutely can do something about it just by going to see a pelvic health physio.
Here are three exercises that you can try that will definitely help with this issue -
- Start on all fours and take a deep breath in, try and really expand your lungs and belly whilst dropping your back in to an arch.
- As you take a deep breath out, lift your back up towards the ceiling and pull you belly button towards your spine trying to make your waist as small as possible.
- This will strengthen the transverse abdominals (deep inner layer of abs) and train your abs from the inside out pulling them together.
- Repeat for 6 to 10 breaths slow and controlled.
This will activate your transverse abdominal and pelvic floor muscles.
- Lie down on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
- Press your lower back in to the floor and try gently drawing your belly button towards your spine.
- Keeping your lower back pressed in to the floor, gently lift your pelvis up an inch whilst breathing out and then put it back down.
- Repeat 6 to 10 times
- Sit on an exercise ball and place your hands on your knees. Begin by drawing in your tummy, tucking your bum underneath you and slowly rolling back one vertebrae at a time.
- Whilst you do this watch your tummy to see if it is doming or forming a triangular shape.
- If you see it doming, it indicates that the core muscles are not engaged. In which case, start again and only go as far as you don’t see the triangular formation.
- Repeat 6 to 10 times
I hope these will help but if in any doubt, please do make a call to see a post natal health professional.
Lily Gredley is a Level 3 personal trainer and pre and post natal specialist based in South West London and Suffolk. We are happy to have her on board at StyleMyKid as one of our resident experts. If you want to contact her about Diastasis Recti or any other pre or post natal exercise issues please go to -