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You may have diastasis recti

The stretching that happens as your pregnant belly grows can cause the muscle to separate, so much so that the tissue in the middle becomes thin enough that your belly button will sometimes push forward causing an “outie.”
Here’s a little lesson in anatomy: your abs go from your pubic bone to your sternum. There are two sides to your abdominal muscle that are connected in the middle by a thin band of tissue. When you are pregnant your growing baby pushes the two sides apart, causing a separation of the muscle. The stretching that happens as your pregnant belly grows can cause the muscle to separate, so much so that the tissue in the middle becomes thin enough that your belly button will sometimes push forward causing an “outie.” If after you give birth there is a 2 finger gap or more between the two sides of the muscle it is considered a diastasis recti.

Women who are most likely to develop a diastasis are:

  • Women giving birth to multiples
  • Women who have repeated pregnancies
  • Women who deliver large babies
  • Women who are over 35

There is not much you can do to prevent this from happening when you are pregnant, after all your baby is growing and your belly is pushing outward. However, after you give birth you want to make sure that the two sides knit back together again. If they don’t, guess what? Mommy Tummy! You end up with a little bulge that doesn’t seem to go away. This separation may also cause you to have back pain.

How to tell if you have a diastasis

Finding out if you have a diastasis is pretty easy. This is what you need to do:

  1. Lay on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor.
  2. Lift your head slightly placing your on chin towards your chest.
  3. Either you or the person taking the measurement places their fingertips in the ridge.
  4. The measurement is determined by the number of fingertips that can be placed in the space between the left and right muscle.

The width of 2 or more fingertips determines diastasis recti.

A 2 to 3 finger gap is considered mild, whereas a 4 to 5 fingertip width is considered severe.

If you need a visual look at this YouTube video showing you how to measure the gap.

If you determine that you have a diastasis, here’s how to get rid of it. The good news is that no matter what your measurement is, you can correct this and get rid of your “mommy tummy” and back pain, with the right exercises and stretching. If you’ve tried doing crunches, you know that doesn’t work – in fact it actually makes the bulge worse, because crunches actually push your abs out. And speaking of crunches, that really buff guy with the 6-pack, guess what? He has a diastasis recti too!

Safe exercises you can do

There are exercises that are safe and effective and will get rid of your mommy tummy. But before you even start doing exercises, you can make little changes. Being mindful to always pull in your abdominals when you are going from a seated position to a standing position will help.

There is a series of 5 exercises that you can do on your own. Go to this website for photos and explanations. There are two techniques that are most frequently used. One is the Tupler Technique and the other is the Mutu System. There are also physical therapists and some pilates instructors that will work with you to knit your abdominal wall together.

Now that you know what caused your mommy tummy, you can work to get rid of it. You can do this and it works!

Let's talk!
Let’s talk. Now I’d like to hear from you. What has been your experience with the diastasis? Did you have success getting rid of your mommy tummy? Leave a comment below.
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Categories: Beyond, Blog, New Moms, and Shaping Up.