The fupa. The mom-pooch. The mummy tummy. These are all different ways society identifies diastasis recti. This common yet dissatisfying lingering effect of pregnancy and postpartum plays with one’s mental, emotional, and physical mentality. Looking pregnant long after baby has been welcomed into the world; the struggles to “get that body back”, which is taking longer than it used to. But alas! There are ways to have that belly back to where it once was with support, assistance, and guidance of a versed professional.
What is Diastasis Recti
Diastasis recti is separations of the abdominal muscles, commonly found in pregnant and postpartum individuals. Diastasist recti tends to make the belly protrude often creating the illusion of a pregnancy, long after childbearing. This midline vertical separation of the abdominal muscles can range from unnoticable to uncomfortable to painful.
What Causes DR
Diastasis recti is caused by extreme inner-abdominal pressure. This can occur due to weight gain, pregnancy, heavy weight lifting, and even in some newborn babies who are born prematurely where their abdominal muscles have yet to fully develop.
How to tell if one has diastasis recti or how severe the diastasis recti is to do a self-check. To conduct a self-check: lie on your back, bend your legs into a froggy style and let your legs open and fall to the sides as much as they will go. Lift your head and shoulders off the ground looking at your belly. Take your hand above your belly button and feel if you can place any fingers in the gap that appears. This indicates that you have DR. How many fingers can fit in the gap is the severity.
It’s also important to note that anyone can be affected by DR. Not only pregnant individuals, but men as well. Incorrect or unsafe weightlifting can also be a cause of DR. When left untreated, diastasis recti can have long-term effects manifesting in poor posture, pelvic floor dysfunction, and body aches and pains in the back and pelvis.
How Can One Prevent Diastasis Recti
Stregnthening core muscles prior to or early on in a pregnancy can help prevent the development of DR. Avoiding putting excessive strain on the abdominal muscles is also one way to combat triggering DR. This could mean avoiding traditional situps or planks, rolling to one side and leaning the legs over the bed before getting out of bed. Consistent pelvic floor exercises. This often looks like doing kegels daily. If you find yourself a victim to experiencing diastatsis recti, there are ways to treat the concern.
How It May Be Treated
In some cases, diasatsis recti can begin to heal itself with exercises geared towards pelvic health and abodinal stregntheing. It is important to note that certain exercises are NOT beneficial to those with diastasis recit. These exercises includes: traditional sit-ups, burpees, and planks. This is due to extra strain put on the abdominal muscles, causing extension in the separation.
Physical & pelvic floor therapy is another great non-surgical way to improve diastasis recti naturally. With the guidance of a professional certified pelvic floor therapist, a plan curated specifically for you is implemented. Pelvic floor therapy includes an assessment, a pelvic floor check, and a series of exercise and check-ups.
Another option is surgery. Often, this is called the tummy tuck or is part of the “mommy makeover”. With it’s close cousin umbilical hernia, both diastasis recti and an umbilical hernia can create a pouch that just won’t go away with any amount of diet and exercise. Some insurances cover diastasis recti, especially if it inhibiting one’s quality of life mentally and physically. Note that with any surgery, especially abdominal, there is down time of 4-8 weeks depending on the outcome and nature of the surgery.
Local Las Vegas Pelvic Floor Resources
In the Las Vegas Valley, there are physical therapists that specialize in pelvic floor. When searching for support and information regarding the diastasis recti and the pelvic floor, seek out a therapist that has pelvic floor credentials. Here are some of our go-to experts for pelvic floor therapy. Be sure to let them know we sent you!
- The Mobility Project (Kelsey Daniels, PT) https://www.bemobile.live/
- P5 Wellness Co. (Dr. Julie Haake, PT, DPT) https://juliehaakedpt.com/
- White Wong PT (Dr. Antoninette Gagliard, PT, DPT) https://www.whitewongpt.com/
These resources have created great relationships with and have been vetted by Vegas Family Doulas. Taking a step in one’s own physical health is an important step to physical healing.
The wonderful thing about our bodies is that they are beautiful and they birthed life. The roller coaster relationship of loving and having disdain for our vessel can make an impact on the overall quality of our self-esteem. Diastasis recti can be prevented, treated, and healed with the right guidance.