Some women have a split down the center of their abdominal muscles after pregnancy – how can they get rid of it?
Essentially, diastasis recti occurs when the two large parallel bands of muscles in the middle of the abdomen stay separated after pregnancy. That split or gap is known as diastasis recti, which is the actual separation of the abdominal muscles.
The muscles will naturally separate during pregnancy as a uterus expands and moves up into the abdomen and stretches between the rectus abdominis muscles to make room for your growing baby. But for some women, the muscles become so stretched out and damaged that they never fully go back together, and this causes a bulge between the two separated bands of the abdominal muscles.
Diastasis recti can lead to complications such as:
- jeopardizing your trunk mobility and stability
- low back pain and pelvic pain
- damaging your posture
- pelvic floor dysfunction
- hernia in extreme case
So what can you do about it? First of all, try to prevent the diastasis recti. Starting pre-pregnancy work on and practice strengthening your core. This should include your pelvic floor and oblique muscles and it’s also important to always use good alignment when performing your abdominal exercises.
You can use kinesiology tape or a belly support belt during your second and third trimesters. A physical therapist can help in reducing this separation through soft tissue, mobilization in the abdomen, strengthening techniques, and even breathing techniques. Some things to remember during pregnancy is to avoid diastasis are don’t perform abdominal crunches.
So when is surgery actually necessary? For some women, the muscles become so stretched out or damaged that they never fully go back together. As I’ve mentioned, occasionally a portion of the intestines can even bulge through the space between the muscles, which is called a hernia. Since a hernia could cause medical problems, this would be a reason to consider surgery.
Diastasis recti surgery involves surgically bringing the separated muscles back together. If you do decide to move forward with surgery for your diastasis recti, you should wait at least a year after your baby is born to allow your body to heal fully and all the muscles to get back into place. This also gives exercise and physical therapy time to work. You should also wait at least a few months after your baby is done breastfeeding as well as hormones are breastfeeding could interfere with your abdominal muscles.