• Can you fully avoid Diastasis Rectus Abdominis (DRA) in pregnancy?
• Does everyone end up with some degree of abdominal separation?
• Or, is it possible to NOT get diastasis at all in pregnancy?
My personal diastasis mantra is this:
We prevent the severity of DRA in pregnancy and we heal it well after.
Inevitably, whenever I say this I get comments from women who say they didn’t get diastasis in their pregnancies.
…I’m just not sure that can actually be true.
I DON’T WANT THAT TO SCARE YOU!
At all. It doesn’t need to. Read on to find out why.
The situation is this in pregnancy: our bodies grow a baby, often to full term or beyond (depending on what we think about those guidelines, of course!), and baby needs to grow.
Thus, your abdominal wall expands. This is good news. Where would baby go otherwise?
What is diastasis recti?
Diastasis recti can be a confusing topic, but I really want to make it as simple as possible for us today.
The connective tissue down the middle of the front side of the belly, the linea alba, stretches from the sternum all the way down the midline of the body to the pubic bone. Our abdominal muscles, layers of them, insert and connect into this connective tissue.
The linea alba that holds our abdominal muscles in close proximity softens and widens, allowing that separation to occur.
We want this tissue to be able to flexible, yet also to be able to gain tension, or become more taut/stiff, as the abdominal muscles contract.
In pregnancy and postpartum – although, it will be less effective in late pregnancy and early postpartum as the abdominal muscles are stretched and in longer lengths than “normal”.
I’ll just say it: I’m a believer that everyone has ‘some degree’ of DRA in pregnancy.
And, these ladies whom I trust immensely agree.
• From Diane Lee, Canadian pelvic health physio:
“Every abdomen expands during pregnancy and everyone’s linea alba is somewhat stretched in the third trimester. Don’t worry if you discover you have a DRA in your 3rd trimester – everyone does to some degree!”
• From Julie Wiebe, US based pelvic health physio:
“A diastasis, a separation, during pregnancy is part of the process of growing a baby. The connective tissue is in the front of the abdomen for a reason, to provide the give necessary for there to be room for the baby to grow and mom’s organs to keep doing their jobs.”
• A recent study suggests that 100% of women by their 35th week of pregnancy have DRA – measured by 16mm wide, just below the belly button. (But, by 6 months postpartum this has reduced to 39%!)
SO, IT’S “NORMAL”!
Depending on how your body carries a baby, this separation can be smaller at some places along the abdominal wall and larger at other places along the abdominal wall.
But, here’s the thing:
We need to be more clear on a diastasis that is causing issues (likely, a separation with highly stressed/weakened connective tissue) vs. a diastasis that isn’t causing issues (likely, a separation with stronger and taut connective tissue).
• How wide a separation is going to cause our bodies issues (aches, pains, pelvic health concerns)?
• What are we considering a “diastasis” in the first place? How wide of a separation IS that?
These are some things we’re still figuring out. This is why if someone tells me they “have a 2/3-finger separation”, it’s important, but all it really means is that I need more information.
This is why we need to do what we can to prevent the severity of DRA in pregnancy, and then heal it post-preganncy. Remembering that HEAL does not necessarily mean CLOSE the gap completely.
How do you know if you have a diastasis IN pregnancy?
It can take a keen eye, to be honest.
But, some signs can be:
• Your belly button is more of an outie than an innie
• It seems like your belly button has gotten wider or is holding less tension
• You can notice a line down the middle of your belly that looks like it is wider than normal (sometimes this is with the right lighting, or when you’re wearing a tight tank top)
• You might be experiencing back pain, hip pain, urinary incontinence, pain in/around your belly button, etc.
OR: YOU MIGHT NOT BE EXPERIENCING ANY REAL SENSATIONS.
You might be able to see in these photos that I have an abdominal separation that is mild. I’m having no body aches and pains at all. No incontinence. The separation isn’t causing any issues. I am well into my 3rd trimester when these photos were taken.
My body is just doing what it has to do, which is allowing the connective tissue to widen for my #bmg to grow.
This is especially noteworthy because people tell me I’m “carrying small” in pregnancy. Even if you are, the abdominal wall is still going to change, still going to expand, and diastasis is likely to occur.
Post-pregnancy I’ll be taking steps to regain good tension through my linea alba and abdominal wall.
Prevent, prevent, prevent!
I’m taking the appropriate steps to preventing a severe diastasis, NOW.
Proper strength training workouts + my #birthprep exercises + paying attention to my alignment.
These are the essentials, mama’s.
This is a KEY component of what my online coaching program, To Pregnancy & Beyond, is teaching prenatal and postnatal women:
—> In pregnancy, how to take exceptional care of their cores and floors. And, after pregnancy (however long it’s been!), how to heal and strengthen their cores and floors.
So, the main message here is NO FEAR! But, let’s put our efforts into taking care of our bodies during and after pregnancy for best results and to avoid lingering issues.