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If you’re wondering whether or not you should be worried about your postpartum diastasis recti, this article will dive right into what it is, remedies (such as the popular belly binding for diastasis recti), and how you can get help if needed.
My medical clearance came at the 6-week mark, but there was NO way I’d be jumping back into my old workout routine any time soon. Why? I had diastasis recti, pelvic floor weakness, swollen feet (still), and my joints continued to ache.
Often times moms have their handheld through each step of the way of their pregnancy, but when it comes to postpartum — they’re completely left in the dark.
Fast forward to the 6 or 8-week checkup when she finds out her core has some separation (commonly known as diastasis recti), what’s a mom to do?
Postpartum Diastasis Recti – What exactly is it?
In simple terms, Diastasis Rectus Abdominis is when your rectus abdominis muscles become separated [think of someone with a 6 pack. Now imagine you tried to pull apart their 6 pack by placing your hands inside their belly button and pulling apart (left to right)]. These muscles tend to get stretched after carrying a baby. They become weak and stretched out, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be rehabilitated.
But here’s the thing, it isn’t always the amount of separation that’s the problem. It’s how your core functions that can be a problem.
Basically, a woman CAN rehabilitate her core after pregnancy so that the deep transverse abdominis muscle activation is strong vs a mom without the abdominal separation with a weak deep transverse abdominis muscle activation.
Is Diastasis Recti a Problem?
It can be when it is associated with abdominal doming, weakness in your core or pelvic floor, pain in your abdomen/core, or back pain associated with a weak core.
How to Treat Diastasis Recti?
The best way to treat diastasis recti is through rehabilitative therapies and exercise. In some more severe cases where your abdomen is unable to handle much or any tension, surgery may be recommended by your healthcare provider.
When it comes to therapy, you should find a pelvic floor therapist or physical therapist specializing in women’s health to help you develop a rehabilitation plan for your diastasis recti.
Remember, not all women with diastasis recti need to be treated. Function (if your abdominal muscles are working properly and safely) should always triumph over aesthetics.
Does Belly Binding for Diastasis Recti Actually Work?
It can. Belly binding is a way for you to wrap and support your abdominal muscles as they hopefully move back into place.
However, the act of just holding the muscle in place isn’t a cure. It surely doesn’t always fix the problem. So what’s a mom to do when she’s tired of having an abdominal gap that isn’t closing?
Below, are some great resources and exercise programs created to help moms who want to improve their abdominal strength and lessen the gap in their core.
Postpartum Diastasis Recti Exercises & Programs
In addition to seeking out therapy from a physical therapist, there are also online programs you can now do from the comfort of your own home!
Two of those programs are very well known for their research-based approach. They also boast incredible testimonials and positive results from moms all over the world, you can check them out down below:
- MUTU System – Mutu is one of the TOP rated online programs for women’s postpartum core. In addition to the rehabilitation program, they provide lots of motivational support and educational videos to make the process fun & enjoyable! Read all about their success stories here.
- The Tummy Team – Not only do they have programs for pelvic floor & DRA rehabilitation, but they also have programs to help you prepare for birth (vaginal or cesarean). I love that The Tummy Team doesn’t just focus on rehabilitation, but also on preparation and prevention.
These two affordable programs you can do from home are a great alternative or addition to working with a qualified physical therapist in person.
Things to Consider BEFORE Working Out After Birth (with DRA):
1. Just because you gave birth to a baby does not mean you are broken
Oftentimes, many women are dying to bounce back into their pre-baby bodies and start doing things left and right.
The thing is, the body is resilient. It was meant to birth that baby. So yes, even though it will take a few weeks, maybe months — with patience, you will be able to rehabilitate and strengthen your postpartum core.
2. Are you having other weak core or pelvic floor symptoms?
Diastasis Recti does not mean you cannot workout, however, you should pay close attention to your body to see if you have any other signs or symptoms that could indicate your pelvic floor needs some help too.
Your pelvic floor is a band of muscles that support your pelvic organs. This band gets stretched and weakened throughout pregnancy as your belly grows.
Common signs of a weak pelvic floor include:
- Urinary Incontinence (leaking with sneezing or coughing)
- Back Pain
- Painful Intercourse
- Pelvic Organ Prolapse
3. Focus on The Tension
If you have been working hard to rehabilitate your postpartum core and find that your core feels like it cannot withstand the addition of weights or certain movements, stop and consult with your healthcare provider.
You can live life with a small separation in your core so long as it can function appropriately. Paying attention to these small detail is crucial to preventing serious injury.
Postpartum Diastasis Recti Recap
Diastasis Rectus Abdominis is when your rectus abdominis muscles become separated (from left to right) at the point of the linea alba.
The myth that a large abdominal separation means you can’t work out is simply not true. It’s far more important that your core can handle tension and function properly vs having a small or large gap.
Belly binding for diastasis recti is more of a bandaid than a fix. It can hold things together but doesn’t mean they’ll get better.
There are many ways you can rehabilitate your postpartum abdomen including one on one physical therapy, at-home DRA rehab programs, and surgery for more severe cases. Which do you think is best for you?
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