How Healing Your Diastasis Recti In Pregnancy Makes You 10x More Comfortable Every Day
I know, pregnancy can be uncomfortable. You knew it would be before you even got into it.
But… what if I told you that most pregnancy discomforts can be prevented or healed even while you are still pregnant.
What if you could say goodbye to that backache and see you later to your shoulder pain? Pelvic pain? no longer a big deal.
What if peeing a little when you sneeze or even more incontinence wasn’t a part of your pregnancy? Even if it is a part of the ‘typical’ pregnancy?
Yes, it’s true.
And that is why I am going to introduce you to the magical word diastasis recti. Because diastasis recti is a part of nearly every pregnancy. And yes, there is something you can do about it that will make your life more comfortable and your birth simpler.
If you want to be more comfortable while carrying a baby in your womb (and after they are born!) , you need to address your diastasis recti in pregnancy.
What is Diastasis Recti in Pregnancy?
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The easiest way to tell you what diastasis recti in pregnancy is is to show you.
Roll up your shirt so you can see your belly button. Put your right hand on your abdominal muscles on the right side of your belly button. Now, place your left hand on the left side of your belly button. Just like the girl in this picture above does.
You have abdominal muscles on each side of your body where your hands are.
Now, look between your hands.
Between the right and left side of your abdominal muscles, there is a line of fascia called the linea alba that holds everything together.
Diastasis recti is when the linea alba, that holds everything tight and snug, gets stretched and your left and right side of your abdominals move away from each other.
Now here’s the tricky part. 100% of pregnant moms will have their abs separate a little bit during pregnancy. You have pregnancy diastasis recti when these separate unnaturally far.
Diastasis Recti becomes more and more common and the symptoms more severe as a mom goes into her second and third pregancnies and beyond.
Can Diastasis Recti Affect Pregnancy?
You are probably wondering, so what if my abs separate? I’m growing a baby! I have enough to think about!
But hear me when I say this, your job as a baby growing woman will be easier if your abs don’t move too far apart. Here’s why.
Diastasis Recti pregnancy symptoms can leave you with these pains:
Back pain – specifically low back pain
Poor posture – which leads to chronic upper body and neck pain and serious shoulder tension
Pelvic floor dysfunction -which means peeing when you don’t want to and sometimes even your organs prolapsing and falling down into your vaginal canal
Digestive problems and constipation
Umbilical hernia – which is when your belly button goes from an innie to an outie, and this may not go back
In fact, problems causes by Diastasis recti in pregnancy do not end there.
However, I do want to give you a little hope, diastasis recti are not going to contribute to miscarriage, preterm birth, or damage to your baby in any way.
How Diastasis Recti In Pregnancy Can Affect Your Birth
When your abs separate, it affects the way you carry your baby as well.
It can be helpful to think about the linea alba being a zipper that runs up your stomach an holds everything together. Or, like the buttons of a shirt holding the left and right sides together.
But what happens if you unzip your coat or unbutton your shirt? The strength and stability by having a connected piece is gone.
Similarly, when your abs separate, your baby may tilt further out and their head may have a harder time finding the exact right position for birth. That doesn’t mean you won’t be able to birth your child, but that it may take longer and be a bit more challenging.
Separation of your abs can affect your birth by:
Baby not being in an optimal position – which leads to longer labor and more pushing
Not being able to find the right muscles to push effectively
Longer births because baby’s head has to mold and you are using less power with each push
Is Diastasis Recti During Pregnancy Painful?
To be clear, it does not hurt when your abs separate. Diastasis is not an acute inury like twisting your ankle or breaking abone.
However, when you lose the stability of a functional core, the rest of your body suffers. Your baby is not going to be harmed by diastasis recti.
The pain associated with diastasis recti in pregnancy is more about aces and pains throughout your body, rather than acute injury where your abs are separating.
How To Test For Diastasis Recti During Pregnancy
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms above and want to test for diastasis recti in pregnancy, there is a quick and easy way to test for it at home.
Phsical Therapist of the Belly Team, Gillian, will show you below.
Basically, you want to lay on your back and feel between your abdominals. It is normal to have about a one finger separation between the left and right side of your abdominals. If you have a separation that is 2 fingers or more, you need to create an action plan on how you will restore integrity to your core.
Diastasis Recti In Pregnancy Exercises
There are many ways to work your abs that are safe for pregnancy and that can help restore your abdominal muscles.
However, I do want to offer a word of caution. Just because this is an abdominal problem, doesn’t mean the solution lies in doing more abdominal exercises such as sit up or crunches.
Nope. No way. These can cause more damage and are likely to worsen your symptoms.
You want to start with abdominal exercises that work the deepest layers of your core and leave the crnches and situps until you have healed.
What I love about healing diastasis with a program is that you get a system that brings you from the most basic healing into a more complex and functional movement.
Also, I specifically recommend these programs because each of the instructors does an amazing job of helping you learn about your own body so you know if it is safe for you to move on and take on more complicated challenging movements, or if you need to back off and do something similar.
Some signs that you might need easier movements?
Does an exercise cause incontinence or pressure on your pelvic floor? Then stop. You are not ready for it.
Does an exrcise cause your belly to bulge out instead of being tight and in towards your spine? Then stop. You are not ready for it
Do you feel any pressure or pain on your pelvis? Then stop. You are not ready for it.
If you answer no to all of these questions, you are most likely good to take on a more challenging exercise. But it is okay if you have to start all the way at relearning your breath movements. Many of us have to do that.
But, I’m not going to lie my absolute favorite and top recommendation is MUTU.
There are some VERY simple changes you can make to your life to prevent diastasis recti in pregnancy. Each of these small changes will take the load off of your linea alba and help you move with more ease and flow and less pain.
Always Roll To The Side To Get Up
One of the easiest changes to make in your routine is to always roll to the side before you get up. When you do a crunch to get up, you put a TON of pressure on the linea alba and can easily do damage. It’s simple to just move to the side and use your arms to push yourself up.
Watch TV While Leaning On A Yoga Ball
Stop sitting on your couch. It seems like this casual laid back position would relieve pressure from your abdomen, but ti doesnt. Essentially when you slouch on a couch, you have assumed a crunch position and have a ton of extra pressure on the linea alba. Instad, lean forward on a yoga ball, allowing your backto stretc. This is actually LESS pressure on your linea alba and has been shown to help baby get in the right position for birth.
Ditch Your Heels
I know, cute heels are one of the last guilty pressures of pregnancy. But they mess with your entire osure and will put more pressure on your abdominals. Consider getting rid of them and wearing a nice flat shoe istead.
Up Your Physical Activity
The science is clear, the more you move, the stronger your body. If you want to prevent diastasis recti during pregnancy, take a daily walk, attend a yoga class or exercise class online or swim. But whatever you do, keep moving.
Don’t Forget Your Kegal Exercises
Your pelvic floor is an important part of the abdominal system. Kegel exercises that strengthen the pelvic floor often remind you to use the rest of your core functionally as well. Check out our tips on how to do perfect Kegels in pregnancy.