By Kim Vopni, The Vagina Coach
Diastasis has become a real buzzword and talked about topic on the internet! Anything to do with the core and belly is always a hot topic! Diastasis Rectus Abdominus (DRA) or otherwise referred to as diastasis, is a very common condition that is most commonly associated with pregnancy.
Diastasis recti literally means ‘separation’ of the recti (the outermost abdominals) from the midline where they are connected via the linea alba. The linea alba softens during pregnancy to allow the two rectus abdominus bellies to curve round the abdominal wall. When the linea alba softens and the connective tissue and muscles stretch, it also contributes to the rectus moving away from the midline which can impair the function of the deep core control system.
Some of the consequences or complaints that are associated with diastasis are Back pain, Pelvic pain, Incontinence, Prolapse and a Bulging abdominal wall. In fact 52% of women with pelvic floor dysfunction (stress urinary incontinence or pelvic organ prolapse) have DRA and for first time mothers seeking care for lumbar or pelvic area complaints, DRA was found in 74.4% of them.
- DRA is very common in pregnancy and in 1988 Boissonnault & Bleschak 1988 found that
- 27% of women in 2ndtrimester have DRA
- 66% of women in 3rdtrimester have a DRA
- 53% persist immediately post partum
- 36% the DRA remains at 7 weeks post partum
Another study by Coldron Y et al 2008 found that
- Spontaneous healing of inter-recti distance at the linea alba only occurs in first 8 weeks
- No further improvements were noted without intervention
- Inter-recti distance remains unchanged at 1 year
Diastasis is a normal response to pregnancy but because women are not being informed during their pregnancy or evaluated in the early weeks postpartum, they are missing out on the best strategies to optimize healing.
Everyone is concerned with ‘closing the gap’ but it is more important to get the linea alba tensioning properly and how you do that is through the pelvic floor. Posture is key to prevent additional strain on the abdominal wall and also to ensure the pelvic floor is working optimally.
Some top tips:
- Pay attention to your posture always, but especially in the postpartum period and ensure the bum is not tucked under.
- Practice the Core Breath exercise daily.
- Buy an abdominal wrap to wear in the early weeks postpartum
- Pre-book an appointment with your pelvic floor physical therapist for 6 weeks – 8 weeks postpartum (call asap as they often have a long wait list).
- Honour the need to recover and delay your return to the gym and ‘regular activities’. It is recommended to avoid high impact activities for 4-6 months and let your pelvic floor therapist give you the ‘green light’. Pelvic floor fitness is KEY to healing a diastasis.