Ever Heard of Diastasis Recti? | ExpatWoman.com

Ever Heard of Diastasis Recti?

Previously unheard of, this is a common problem in many women. Don't worry, the experts at Fakih IVF tell us all about it...

Posted on

2 July 2017

Last updated on 26 February 2018
Ever Heard of Diastasis Recti?
If you still feel your tummy is the same like when you were pregnant then, you might be suffering from Diastasis Recti. In short, it's a gap in between your right and left abdominal wall muscles that can result in a rounded, protruding belly 'pouch'.

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'. Sometimes the tissue heals, and the muscles come back together after delivery when your hormone levels return to pre-pregnancy levels. But if this doesn't happen in three to six months, you can end up with a gap that won't close without treatment.

Studies show that about 40 percent of women have a diastasis at six months postpartum. A diastasis can lead to other problems including chronic low back pain, urinary incontinence, constipation, pain during sex, and pelvic or hip pain.

If you're curious to know if you are suffering from Diastasis Recti, read the below pointers on how you can check for yourself:
  • Lie on your back, with your knees bent and your feet on the floor
  • Place your hand palm down over your belly, with your fingers pointing toward your toes
  • Press your fingers gently into your navel area then slowly lift your head, drawing your chin to your chest. This causes your rectus abdominis to contract
If you feel a gap of at least two finger widths between the muscles as they contract, you have a diastasis. A gap as wide as four or five fingers is considered severe. Repeat the procedure below and above your belly button because the separation may be wider in different places.

Who is prone to Diastasis Recti?

  • Overweight individuals carrying most of their weight in their abdomen
  • Those who perform exercises incorrectly or with bad posture
  • Women who are pregnant
  • Women who gain more than the recommended amount of weight during pregnancy
  • Women with multiple pregnancies or whose pregnancies are spaced closer together
  • Women who are pregnant with more than one fetus at once (twins, triplets, etc.)
  • Women over the age of 35

Diastasis recti explained by Fakih IVF

How can I avoid diastasis?

If your body supports you then, it’s a good idea to begin doing exercises to strengthen your core before you become pregnant. Once you're pregnant, you can continue some of them through the first trimester. But even gentle core strengthening is largely ineffective once your belly gets big.
In any case, it's likely that staying active can help. Some studies show that women who exercised regularly during pregnancy were less likely to end up with diastasis recti.
Note: Before starting any exercises consult your physical Therapist.
During pregnancy or after childbirth, if you develop a cough from allergies or a respiratory illness, such as a cold or flu, place your hands across your belly and manually split your abdomen together during coughing episodes. This will provide needed additional support, and help to prevent separation of your midline.
To protect your midline during pregnancy, always use the "log roll" maneuver when rising from the floor or out of bed. Log roll: with your torso and head aligned and in one piece, roll over onto your side, and then use your arms to help push yourself up to a sitting position.

SEE ALSO: What you need to know about Preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD)

Special precautions for women with Diastasis Recti/Abdominal Separation

Avoid all activities that place stress on the midline, that stretch or overly expand the abdominal wall through everyday activities, exercise, or breathing techniques.

Some types of movement to avoid:
  • Movements where the upper body twists and the arm on that side extends away from the body, such as "triangle pose."
  • Exercises that require lying backward over a large exercise ball.
  • Yoga postures that stretch the abs, such as "cow pose," "up-dog," all backbends, and "belly breathing."
  • Abdominal exercises that flex the upper spine off the floor or against the force of gravity such as: as crunches, oblique curls, "bicycles," roll ups/roll downs, etc.
  • Pilates mat and reformer exercises that utilize the "head float" position, upper body flexion, or double leg extension.
  • Any exercise that causes your abdominal wall to bulge out upon exertion.
  • Lifting and carrying very heavy objects.
  • Quadrupeds exercises without adequate abdominal support.
  • Intense coughing without abdominal support.
We know it can be super stressful to think about getting Diastasis Recti during pregnancy, but do your best to remember good body mechanics and try not to stress it too much. 
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Fakih IVF (Dubai)
Fakih IVF has helped over 15,000 couples realize their dream of parenthood. Since the birth of its first in vitro baby in the USA in 1987, Fakih IVF has been at the forefront of infertility treatment, having one of the highest birth rates in the world.

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