Diastasis Recti is something I talk about a lot. Most moms want to know if their “mommy tummy” is due to an abdominal separation. A lot of moms think their separation won’t heal without surgery. If you have these questions check out these five diastasis recti facts:
1. Diastasis recti is very common in pregnancy for most bodies.
Often mommas come to me terrified that their muscles separated during pregnancy. Diastasis has become a the postpartum buzz word, for very good reason, but some information out there is misleading. Abdominal muscles have to separate to some degree for the body to make room to grow your sweet babe. Your body is amazing.
2. Diastasis recti can be healed without surgical intervention, even severe cases.
I hear “So and so said surgery is my only option” often. This just simply isn’t true. Even if you have a huge separation with very little tension in the linea alba, your best bet is to retrain the muscles. The muscles have to learn to work properly for the core to work well anyway, right? Surgery is a quick fix and, oftentimes, those muscles don’t learn how to work properly even after the surgery is done. It may take some time, but belly binding and retraining the deep abdominal muscles is the best way to heal any diastasis.
3. You can have a gap and a strong core, functional separations exist!
The gap does not have to be fully closed for the core to work well. I focus more on the tension of the linea alba than I do the actual gap. Sure, the gap matters, but if you have great tension, your core and floor handle changing pressure well, and there’s no pain- I’m happy. Of course, this is different for everybody – as always!
4. Crunches and planks should be avoided postpartum for most bodies.
Yes, they should be avoided, especially early postpartum. These are often promoted as the “get their core back” exercises because they are easy to do at home. But here’s the thing: tummies are supposed to be squishy and different and may even look a bit pregnant for a while postpartum. It’s totally normal.
It took 9 (10, actually) months for your belly to make room to grow that baby and it takes time for it to feel and look “normal” again. Crunches and planks put a lot of pressure on the linea alba and that connective tissue has already been under tension for quite a while. It needs to heal. Plus, there are much better “core” exercises out there, and plenty of them.
5. It is completely normal to look like you just had a baby when you just had a baby!
Mommy tummy can just be mommy tummy, and that’s OK. Bodies are meant to change and to grow. Some women return to “normal” very early, and that’s great. Most don’t, and that is also OK. Hormone fluctuations, breastfeeding, stress, and sleep all play a part in postpartum weight and your body may hold onto it for a while. Yes, even a year postpartum.