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If you’ve had your baby and are having trouble losing your pregnancy weight or still look pregnant, it could be because you have diastasis recti.
Pronounced dī-ăs′tə-sĭs rec-tie, this is where the connective tissue between your abdominal wall, called the linea alba, is overstretched and your ab muscles are separated.
A little stretching is normal during pregnancy. A diastasis recti is considered harmful when the linea alba is stretched too far to heal on its own, usually greater than two finger-widths apart.
This is often accompanied by:
- Pelvic, hip, or back pain
- Intestinal issues
- An inability to contract or stabilize your core
- “Mummy tummy” – still looking pregnant after having your baby
Here’s how to tell if you have this condition, and how to bring your abs back together!
5 Steps to Tell if Your Abs are Separated After Pregnancy
You can watch the video or follow the steps below!
Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Take a few deep breaths while completely relaxing your body, especially your abs and your butt.
Use your index, middle, and ring fingers to feel the firmness of your linea alba.
- Keeping fingers close together, knuckles pointing at your legs, start just below your sternum and firmly press fingers along your connective tissue. Stop about 1-2 inches below the belly button.
- Notice any soft or squishy areas. Pay attention to how deep you can go in some areas if noticeable.
Repeat with your chin tucked and your head lifted off the floor: You can put one hand behind your neck, but do not pull your neck. Make sure your shoulders stay on the ground and only your head comes off of floor.
- Feel for the left and right sides of your ab muscles coming together and record any gap in finger widths.
- If you don’t feel anything, add a finger until you do (some may need 1-2 hands).
- Repeat as needed until you feel you’re getting an accurate assessment.
Record your results at the following areas:
- Halfway between your sternum and belly button- about 3 fingers below your sternum (chest bone)
- Halfway between your belly button and pubic bone- about 3 fingers below your belly button
- At your belly button
A small separation can be normal and heal in the first few weeks postpartum. If the finger width is two or more, special exercises, binding, and precautions need to be taken.
To determine if your abs can still contract despite a separation, repeat Step 3 again. This time take a big belly breath in and as you’re forcing all the air out, perform a small kegel.
Notice how this changes the gap.
- If there’s no tension or narrowing, it demonstrates a dysfunctional diastasis recti
- If you noticed a large gap but it narrows, it means your diastasis is “functional” meaning your abs can still contract
Note: if you feel anything out of the ordinary, like a painful bulge in the abdomen, contact your OBGYN or doctor
How to Fix Diastasis Recti and Get a Flat Stomach
There are two tried and true ways to help close diastasis recti.
A Bellefit Postpartum Girdle
- Helps your body to heal with the support it needs. Also stimulates your Lymphatic system to help remove toxins and decrease swelling and bring your abs back together safely.
Exercises Safe for Postpartum
Many exercises can make your separation and incontinence worse, so choosing only safe workouts is key. A program designed for diastasis recti will help you gain your strength back and stabilize your core without any harmful exercises.
Discovering if you have this condition is the first step to bringing your abs back together and feeling strong and healthy again!
About the author:
Allison Lambert is the personal trainer behind The Fit Tutor, a site dedicated to making workouts and healthy eating attainable for all women, no matter their schedule or stage of life. She passionately writes about the struggles of living a healthy lifestyle, and includes tips on healthy eating, accountability, and finding time for yourself in motherhood. She has designed a Postpartum Workout Program, including recovery for C-sections and diastasis recti.
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