Diastasis Recti: Why Ab Separation Happens?
Diastasis recti mean your belly sticks out because the space between your left and right belly muscles has widened. You might call it a “pooch.” It’s very common among pregnant women. About two-thirds of pregnant women have it.
Newborn babies also can have this belly spread, and it should go away on its own. Men can get it, possibly from yo-yo dieting, from doing sit-ups or weightlifting the wrong way, or from other reasons.
Having more than one child makes this condition more likely, especially if they’re close in age. You’re also more likely to get it if you’re over 35 when pregnant, or if you’re having a heavy baby or twins, triplets, or more. Pregnancy puts so much pressure on the belly that sometimes the muscles in front can’t keep their shape. “Diastasis” means separation. “Recti” refers to your ab muscles called the “rectus abdominis.
When the ab muscles move aside like this, the uterus, bowels, and other organs have only a thin band of connective tissue in front to hold them in place. Without the needed muscle support, vaginal delivery could be harder.
The situation also can cause lower back pain, constipation, and urine leaking. It can even make it harder to breathe and to move normally. It’s rare, but in extreme cases, the tissue may tear, and organs may poke out of the opening — that’s called a hernia.
There are often multiple causes why the abdominal muscles separate during pregnancy and these include:
- Excessive weight gain during pregnancy
- Hormone changes that soften the connective tissues between your stomach muscles
- A genetic predisposition
- Stretching of the abdominal muscles as the baby grows
- Multiple pregnancies
- Subsequent pregnancies
Following the birth of your baby, a physiotherapist may access your abdominal muscles to determine if a separation has occurred.
Treatment may include:
- Specific exercises to strengthen the deep abdominal muscles taught by a physiotherapist
- Suitable abdominal support garments including SRC shorts
- Minimizing lifting anything heavier than your baby or anything that reason your abdominal muscles to bulge with strain
- Avoid sit-ups or abdominal crunches until the separation resolves
- Roll when getting out of bed