What is Diastasis Recti?
Diastasis recti is the separation of the abdominal muscles which is often characterized by a bulge in the middle of the abdomen. Most women who have had children have diastasis recti to some degree, although some may not realize it. In addition to the tell-tale abdominal bulge, you may also experience back pain, pelvic pain, worsened posture, and abdominal pain.
How is it Caused?
The most common cause of diastasis recti is pregnancy. When women are in their 2nd and 3rd trimester of pregnancy, the developing baby runs out of room and starts to grow outwards. This outward growth causes the abdominal muscles to separate. Often, the muscles do not come back together after birth. Carrying multiples or a large baby, having more than one term pregnancy, and being pregnant over the age of 35 greatly increases the risk of developing diastasis recti.
How is it Treated?
Some women will heal on their own a few weeks after delivery. Wearing a “belly binder” for support after birthing can help this natural healing process. You should also avoid heavy lifting, practice good posture, support your lower back when sitting, and provide support to your core when sitting up in bed or coughing and sneezing. There are many at-home exercise regimes you can do starting at about 6 weeks postpartum. Always ask a doctor before starting up an exercise plan after delivering a baby.
Sometimes more severe cases require physical therapy. Our team at Women’s Health of Central Virginia will be able to decide whether physical therapy is necessary and can refer you to a physical therapy specialist. At physical therapy, your progress will be monitored as you are taught and guided through exercises to help strengthen your core. You will start to see results anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.
Schedule an appointment with us today to get started.