Diastasis recti refer to the visible separation or gap between your left and right recti muscles. Once again it is due to the hormones that surface during pregnancy, mainly relaxin. Many women are not even aware that they have it.
After delivery most women will have a gap between the two stomach muscles, known as the rectus muscles. Rectus muscles run vertically down to the pelvis. They may separate in the middle. This separation is termed as diastasis recti and is a type of hernia.
Why Diastasis Rectus happens
It is a normal occurrence that happens during pregnancy where the abdominal walls get stretched and pushed apart as your baby grows. Relaxin causes the abdominal muscles to expand sideways leading to diastasis recti. The two halves of the rectus abdominus separate, a normal tendency during pregnancy. Multiple births and repeated pregnancies aggravate the condition. If this is your first pregnancy the separation is not obvious at all. With subsequent pregnancies the separation gains prominence. Exercises can strengthen these muscles but the bulge or gap will not totally disappear.
- Lie on your back with your knees bent. The separation is more obvious when you are lying down with your head raised.
- Place two fingers of your right hand just above the belly button pointing down and your left hand by your side. Slowly lift your head. Your abdominal muscles will tighten. You may notice a bulge in the middle of your abdomen. You may also feel a gap between the sides of your abdominal muscles.
- If the gap is obvious then you do have diastasis. With diastasis you will have to make sure the situation doesn't worsen by avoiding certain exercises and your movements in general.
- If at 10 days (with exercising) the gap is still four fingers, then help from the physiotherapist or your doctor is necessary to fix the distended rectus. Correct exercises will be recommended.
- The outermost layer is the rectus abdominus. This muscle comprises of two halves that are joined together by a long fibrous tissue in the middle. The next muscle layer is the internal and external obliques. The innermost abdominal layer is the transverse muscle.
- Interestingly the gap that you feel between the muscles is your uterus. Baby's movements can be felt more easily here.
- Some women have no gap. The average gap is two fingers (3cm or 1¼ in).
- These muscles have distended if the separation is about 6 cm or 2½ in.
- Following pregnancy these muscles contract and close the gap. The rectus is considered to have closed if there is a solid base with a tiny gap and your finger does not sink into soft tissue. An average two finger gap will take 2-3 weeks to close, longer if the gap is bigger.
- It isn't painful or harmful to you or your baby
- Girdles will not help get rid of the bulge or the gap.
- Take great care to maintain correct posture and when getting out of bed.
- Attempt gentle oblique abdominal exercises only when the gap is closed usually from 3 weeks onwards or when it has reduced to 3cm/ 1¼ in.