A Diastasis Recti (DR) is a gap between the two lines of the Rectus Abdominis (RAs) During pregnancy the line of connective tissue that runs down the middle of the two RAs becomes thin and relaxes to allow expansion of your belly. This is a perfectly normal process and 100% of women in their third trimester will have a DR.
It is interesting to point out here that pregnancy is the cause of the DR NOT childbirth so whether you gave birth vaginally or via C-section a DR will be present.
After birth your body will heal itself as far as it can and roughly 60% of women who are 6 weeks post natal, 39% of women who are six months post natal and 32% of women who are twelve months post natal will still have a Diastasis Recti.* Your body will heal itself up to a certain time and then healing slows down and it is up to you to start helping the process.
A Diastasis Recti is medically defined as a gap of 2.7cms or greater. However, it is possible to have a wider gap and experience no problems or have a narrower gap and experience more problems. What is important is the TENSION of the linea alba. According to Diane Lee ** Width isn’t as important as depth or bulging. Depth and bulging tell us that the core is not firing together. We want a linea alba that has the tension of a firm trampoline, not a tired stretchy pair of old leggings.
Remember the most important thing when measuring is how firm it is when you push down in the middle.
1. Lay on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
2. Use one hand to gently lift your head off of the floor. Be sure to keep your shoulders on the floor at all times.
3. With your fingers pointing downwards start just below your bra line and work your way down your linea alba.
4. Can you feel the two walls of your Rectus Abdominis muscles?
5. Firstly how big is the gap?
6. Most importantly are your fingers met with firmness or is it soft and squishy?
Try and measure at the following places: –
a) Halfway between belly button and rib-cage
b) Right above your belly button
c) Halfway between your belly button and pubic bone.
In my next post we will look at ways you can help heal a DR and strengthen a weak Linea Alba and exercises / movements to avoid.
*Sperstad JB, Tennfjord MK. Diastasis recti abdominis during pregnancy and 12 months after childbirth: prevalence, risk factors and report of lumbopelvic pain. Br J Sports Med. 2016 Sep;50(17):1092-6. 2. AND Patrícia Gonçalves Fernandes, Augusto Gil Brites Andrade. Prevalence and risk factors of diastasis recti abdominis from late pregnancy to 6 months postpartum, and relationship with lumbo-pelvic pain. Manual Therapy. Volume 20, Issue 1, February 2015. 200-205.
** Diane Lee – Pelvic Floor Essentials