Diastasis Recti & Pregnancy – What You Need to Know

The Tummy Team works with prenatal and postpartum women to prepare the core and pelvic floor for a strong pregnancy and delivery and healthy birth recovery. One of the conditions we specialize in is diastasis recti. We get tons of questions about diastasis recti and pregnancy and hope to help expecting moms everywhere have the answers they need to be strong for motherhood.  Here are a handful of common questions (and our answers) that most women have about diastasis recti and pregnancy.

 

Q: Why is diastasis recti so common in pregnant women?Diastasis Recti in Pregnancy, Copyright, The Tummy Team

A: The combination of increasing forward forceful pressure on the abdominal wall combined with the increased hormonal laxity of the connective tissue that holds the abdominals together makes pregnant women more susceptible to diastasis recti than other groups of clients.  In addition, constipation, breath holding for changing positions or lifting, and holding your breath and bearing down for delivery can all cause damage to the abdominal wall.

 

 

Q: Can you do anything for diastasis recti while you are pregnant?

A: Absolutely!  It is actually super important to do prenatal core training in all pregnancies regardless if you currently have diastasis recti or not. If you do have a diastasis, then we already know your internal core muscles are weak and your body is using strategies that reinforce negative forward forceful pressure on the connective tissue.  Often we can help clients close their DR while they are pregnant and we can consistently make significant improvements in core strength that will prevent worsening of the condition, help with pregnancy, optimal fetal alignment, delivery and birth recovery. The Tummy Team has several Prenatal Core Training online programs for exactly this purpose.

Q: Can I have a diastasis if I have never been pregnant?Copyright, The Tummy Team

A: While pregnancy creates some unique circumstances that predispose women to a diastasis, anyone can develop DR.  Any form of consistent bulging, bearing down, bracing, collapsing or pressing out on your abdominal wall can gradually create micro-tears in the connective tissue and cause it to overstretch and pull the two sides of the abdominal wall apart.  We have worked with men and women, teens and children who have all acquired DR from weight gain, traditional ab exercises, trauma to their tummy, digestive issues/bloating, chronic constipation and other conditions that promote muscle imbalance in the abdominals and forward forceful pressure on the connective tissue of the abdominal wall. So yes, you can suffer from diastasis recti even if you have never been pregnant.

Q: Why do OBGYNs not counsel on diastasis recti at the 6-week follow up appointment?

A: We feel like this has not happened in the past primarily due to poor professional education. Doctors have not historically seen good treatment outcomes in rehab and surgery also has not been a great option. As a result, doctors don’t tend to look for a condition that they do not have a good treatment plan to help correct.  We are on a mission to change that. We are focused on creating a new standard of care where all pregnant women are checked prenatally and postpartum for diastasis recti and functional core weakness.  The Tummy Team is not only a resource to people struggling with diastasis but also a resource to the medical and birth community.  We have developed several professional training courses as well as speak at colleges, national and international conferences to help change how we diagnosis and treat diastasis recti.

Q: Can diastasis present years after the pregnancy?Diastasis Recti and Fitness, Copyright, The Tummy Team

A: While pregnancy is a very common contributor to diastasis, it is not the cause. Diastasis recti is caused by constant or repetitive forward forceful pressure on the connective tissue.  Sometimes clients will not present with much of a diastasis after delivery, but a few years into chronic crunching parenting postures, their body starts to feel like it is falling apart.  Understanding how to help your body move well while doing what you need for your family is a passion of The Tummy Team. If you suspect your core is weak and disconnected get more information about diastasis and functional core weakness here and see how we can help you.

 

Q: What is the relationship between a diastasis/core weakness and SI joint instability? 

Does diastasis recti cause Symphysis Pubis dysfunction?

A: Diastasis Recti can directly impact pelvic instability including symphysis pubis dysfunction, sacroiliac joint instability, tailbone pain and more. The more you understand about the anatomy of your abdominals, the more this makes sense. Your transverse abdominis is your innermost abdominal muscle and it resembles a corset wrapping around your entire pelvis and your lower six ribs. When we have a diastasis, our corset muscle does not have a solid connection down the center and often is inactive and uncoordinated. If the corset is not strong and connected then the pelvis is missing its main form of stability and symmetry and this weakness contributes to multiple pelvic bone dysfunction. Rebuilding your internal core not only helps heal your diastasis but gives you the missing stability your pelvis is needing to be stable and pain-free.

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As you can see, diastasis recti can have a lot of impact on pregnancy. We encourage you to not wait until you are not pregnant or done having kids to take care of your core. At The Tummy Team, we find that working on functional core strength and optimal postural alignment during your pregnancy can be the key to a pain-free pregnancy and a strong birth and a speedy birth recovery. Diastasis recti can be treated while you are pregnant and we want to help you. If you live in the SW Washington or Portland OR area come to see us in person at our clinic. If not, we have several prenatal and postpartum online core rehabilitation programs for clients to do effectively from home no matter where you live.  Find out more at www.thetummyteam.com.

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