What is Diastasis Recti?
How To Heal Diastasis Recti
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In short, it’s a gap in between your right and left abdominal wall muscles that can result in a rounded, protruding belly “pooch.” Chalk it up to hormones and your ever-expanding uterus, says Kevin Brenner, M.D., F.A.C.S., a board certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon based in Beverly Hills. “During the gestational period of pregnancy, connective tissue called the linea alba thins out in response to a mother’s change in hormone levels in order to accommodate the enlarging uterus.
Once you’ve delivered your baby, and your hormone levels return to their pre-pregnancy levels, that thinning generally improves. But in many cases, Dr. Brenner says, the tissues get so stretched out during pregnancy that they lose their elasticity and, therefore, the ability to retract back into position — kind of like an overstretched rubber band.What Is Diastasis Recti During Pregnancy
Your medical history could play a factor as well. “Women who had diastasis recti from a previous pregnancy will most likely develop the condition again,” says Helene Byrne, a prenatal and postpartum health and fitness expert and founder of BeFit-Mom [befitmom.com]. “Women with a history of umbilical or ventral hernia, and pelvic instability, are at greater risk for developing it.” Protecting your vulnerable abdomen can help keep the muscles from separating.
That means rolling onto one side with your torso and head aligned, then using your arms to help push yourself up to a sitting position. There are also helpful exercises you can do while you’re pregnant, according to Leah Keller, who developed the Dia Method meant to strengthen the pregnant abdominals and overall body for labor and postpartum recovery.
Just lie on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Put one hand on your belly, with your fingers on your midline at your navel. Press your fingertips down gently, and bring your head (shoulders stay on the ground) up into a mini crunch-like position. Feel for the sides of your rectus abdominis muscles, and see if and how far they are separated.
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Exercise can be used to repair diastasis recti and should be undertaken as the first approach to healing — just be sure to get the okay from your doctor postpartum. At-home workout programs, such as the MuTu System [mutusystem.com] developed by U (what is considered diastasis recti).K.-based mom and trainer Wendy Powell, are meant to help specifically strengthen the core while avoiding exercises that can exacerbate the problem, such as crunches — a major diastasis recti no-no.
If severe, diastasis may be corrected through surgery, generally done as a tummy tuck with excess skin removal. But think of that as a last resort. “Surgical repair of diastasis recti should only be done after a woman is sure that she is finished with family building,” says Byrne. Copyright © 2015 Meredith Corporation.
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Ledbetter DJ, Chabra S, Javid PJ. Abdominal wall defects. In: Gleason CA, Juul SE, eds – what is diastasis recti after pregnancy. Avery’s Diseases of the Newborn. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 73.Turnage RH, Mizell J, Badgwell B. Abdominal wall, umbilicus, peritoneum, mesenteries, omentum, and retroperitoneum. In: Townsend CM Jr, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds.
Sarah Tar knew something was wrong when, at four weeks postpartum, she fell back into her usual workout routine and was shedding the pregnancy weight everywhere — except her stomach.No matter how much she worked on her core muscles, her stomach wouldn’t flatten.”I was having a really tough time performing lifts and performing the movements that I was used to be able to do while I was pregnant,” she said.Along with the difficulty of falling back into her old workout routine, Tar experienced pelvic and back pain — something the mother of three had never gone through before.Diastasis recti can be corrected with physical therapy and breathing exercises.TODAY”I was active each pregnancy, working out before, during and after each child,” Tar said.While her doctor told her to take it easy and just “listen to her body,” Tar wasn’t convinced.
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“Your six-pack muscles essentially separate in two halves.”And for those who don’t see their stomach flatten out by eight weeks postpartum, they can face a magnitude of health issues.”It can be pretty painful,” said Ryan. “Women can experience pelvic pain, pelvic organ prolapse and painful sex.”And although OB GYNs are beginning to educate women on the issue, many (like Tar) are still in the dark about the risks of leaving the condition untreated.According to Ryan, diastasis recti is relatively simple to diagnose.Ryan recommends women lay on a flat surface and with their fingers parallel to their body, have them lift their head and feel for two things: separation of the six-pack muscles and tension in the connective tissue.”If more than two fingers can fit in between the stomach muscles, it needs proper rehab,” Ryan said.”When a woman is pregnant, the top part of the body bends backwards to make room for the baby,” Ryan said.
The breathing exercises continue to stretch out the core muscles.We apologize, this video has expired.One important thing to note is that it’s never too late to address distastis recti. Dr. Taraneh Shirazian, a gynecologist at NYU Langone Health in New York City, explained that physical therapy is the easiest and best way to fix the problem.
Many OB GYNs credit the symptoms that come along with diastasis recti to pregnancy itself, without checking their patient’s progress.But Dr. Christine Greves, a Florida-based OB GYN, said it’s hard to tell whether or not diastasis recti is present in pregnancy patients at the six-week checkup.”Your body is still healing and repairing,” she said.
“The system isn’t always strong enough after birth, and added pressure to the core muscles can cause the symptoms to get even worse.”Tar hopes more women will realize that this is an issue, and talk to their doctors about it.”You should never have to go through life having issues like pelvic pain, incontinence (or) having this issue that takes away from the fitness that you enjoy or doing things that you love,” Tar said.
Diastasis rectus abdominis (diastasis recti, diastasis, DRA, or DR), the partial or complete separation of abdominal muscles, has become a buzzy diagnosis aimed at moms during the postpartum period (“Get rid of your mom tummy!”), and it can sound like a scary prognosis – how to get rid of diastasis recti (what is diastasis recti repair). To learn more about it, we recently interviewed Munira Hudani, PT, a pelvic-health and women’s-health physiotherapist based in Toronto.
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She is the director of the Pelvic Health Program at Bosnar Centre for Health in Toronto, has taught courses on DR to rehab and fitness professionals, provides clinical mentorship to physiotherapists, is a cofounder of Made for Women workouts, and is on the teaching faculty of Pelvic Health Solutions, the leading educational body in Canada for pelvic-health education.
“It’s not for anybody to judge or to tell you what you should be feeling. If you want your stomach back, that’s OK. If you feel like all you want to be able to do is run again, that’s fine too,” she said. Read on for more of Hudani’s thoughts about how to heal from diastasis recti.
Diastasis rectus abdominis is literally defined as separation of the rectus abdominis muscles (the two sections of muscle in the front of the abdomen that are, before pregnancy, connected by the linea alba). The important thing to note is that with DR, although we are really focusing on the linea alba and the space between the two muscles, the reason it occurs is because there is a sustained amount of pressure from the inside that pushes out on the linea alba and the whole abdomen.
We need to take this and put it into context with what else is happening. It’s the entire abdominal wall that is affected and not just the linea alba (can a mini tummy tuck fix diastasis recti) (what is severe diastasis recti). It’s all about the pressure. It could be a sustained increased pressure over a long period of time, or it could be repeated amounts of pressure frequently enough that the tissues themselves didn’t have time to accommodate, so they become stretched out and stay there afterwards.