One of the things you may experience during pregnancy is the expansion of your abdominal muscles, causing the left and right muscles to separate to make room for your baby. In more technical terms, this expansion is called diastasis recti and is the cause of what you may call a “pooch” in your belly.
In some cases, you may still have diastasis recti, or dia recti for short, after your pregnancy. However, healing the condition is not solely dependent on closing the gap in your abdomen, but rather, restoring the function of your abdominal wall. Experts have started to notice that diastasis recti may cause a loss of density and compromise the linea alba’s ability to transfer force to the abdominal wall.
Although experiencing dia recti is extremely common in pregnancy, many are not aware of the condition. Often, it is dubbed as a condition no one talks about. While it’s normal for your body to change during pregnancy, it will still be helpful to know if you have diastasis recti, so you understand how to recover from it after childbirth.
Signs and Symptoms
The physical effects of diastasis recti are the most evident signs of the condition. If you notice a bulge or pooch in the center of your stomach even months after giving birth, there is a high chance that you have diastasis recti.
Lower back pain is another common symptom because muscles separate the lower back, so any separation or expansion of the muscles may trigger pain. However, it is natural to experience back pain due to the extra weight you carried, so it will be best to consult with your doctor if you suspect having diastasis recti.
Poor posture may also be a sign of dia recti since your abdominal muscles are weaker. You may feel this sign the most in the latter part of your pregnancy or as early as your second trimester since your muscles may not be able to contract.
Once you’re about two weeks postpartum, you can try to assess yourself to see if you have diastasis recti. It would still be better to bring this up with your doctor to get a precise answer, but you can also try self-assessing yourself to track your progress if you’re following an exercise regimen.
Commence by laying on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground. Place your hand on your abdomen and poke a few fingers down. Nod your chin towards your chest, then feel the distance between your left and right abdominal muscle from the top, going down to your pubic bone. The widest gap is usually found close to your belly button.
Typically, a separation of one or two fingers will not necessarily affect your core function. If you feel a separation of two and a half fingers or more, then you should consult a physician to know what activities you should avoid.
Having a strong core has several benefits, so being aware of whether or not you have diastasis recti will be the first step to achieving this. A stronger core will help you improve your overall balance and stability, and will also be beneficial in the event of future pregnancies. Once you fully recover from childbirth, you can start gradually incorporating simple exercises to your daily routine to restore your core function and get rid of the bulge slowly.