Diastasis Recti and A Mom’s Anatomy
I had a patient who was 20 weeks along come in the other day and say, “I really can’t feel my core working. It feels like the muscles have slid to the side and are inaccessible. What’s going on?” What’s going on is something we call Diastasis Recti, and while anyone can suffer from this it is closely connected to a mom’s anatomy.
Have you ever felt this way?
Let’s breakdown the Mom Anatomy.
All of our abdominal muscles are actually pairs of two identical muscles on the left and right side of the body. Your Rectus and Transverse both attach along your midline to a thick band of connective tissue called the Linea Alba. You may have seen this during your pregnancy if you had a darkening line running straight down your belly. This connective tissue attaches from the bottom of your sternum to the top of your pubic bone and is designed with stretch in mind. To be able to bend, twist and grow a tiny human, our bodies have made compromises in stability and the linea alba is the perfect example.
As baby grows this tissue stretches and thins allowing the belly to expand for extra room. Without proper core engagement and tone to keep the 2 halves of our abdominal muscles together, the muscles separate apart as the linea alba stretches, leaving a chink in our armour, a weak point in the core, and making it so our muscles are unable to properly engage or function.
This separation is known as Diastasis Recti and is most commonly associated with pregnancy (although the truth is anyone can develop a Diastasis Recti separation). Just to be clear, a Diastasis Recti can be caused by pregnancy, but pregnancy doesn’t have to cause a Diastasis Recti.
The good new is that with proper muscle engagement and strengthening not only can we heal this stretched and separated tissue, I believe we can prevent it from happening if started early enough in a pregnancy. Recent research has shown that up to 40% of women still have a Diastasis Recti Separation at six months postpartum. This makes core engagement and stability almost impossible if you don’t know how to properly use these muscles and heal this injury.
So, what’s a Mom to do?
- Make an appointment while you are pregnant! A lot people say you can’t do anything about Diastasis while pregnant and this is just not true. I can help you understand your pregnancy posture, restore balance to your body and teach you the first steps of core engagement that are safe to do while pregnant.
- Be mindful in your movement. Roll to your side and then to a seated position to get up off the couch or out of bed, rather than sitting straight up.
- Notice how you stand. It’s easy to let the weight of baby pull you forward while standing which can tilt the pelvis forward and put more pressure on the linea alba. Pay attention to standing with a neutral pelvis and let your ribcage soften downward. Make sure you are standing on your entire foot, not just letting your body weight rest on the front half of your feet.
- Move more, move well. Diastasis is a result of how the whole body is moved and / or lack of movement. Prenatal yoga classes are a great way to practice movement that supports and strengthens the pregnant body.
- Get checked. If you are postpartum and suspecting that you may have Diastasis, get it checked out by an expert in postpartum recovery (like myself). A lot of postpartum “get your pre-baby body back” fitness classes are not going to help with Diastasis and can sometimesmake it worse. One little tip- avoid sit ups and core work until you have seen a specialist.
- Read up. If you don’t have time to go in and see someone, another great resource is my ebook! It is chalk full of information, tools and support to help you learn about yourself and this unique life stage. click here to purchase The Unstoppable Mom Ebook!
You can heal your body and live a life of wellness and I am here to support you.