“Why do I still look pregnant?”

 

Scenario . . . 

A new mom has given birth to a healthy baby boy. She is about 6 weeks post-delivery and has been able to lose her pregnancy weight fairly quickly . . . all except for that stubborn stomach area that seems to just poke out.  She feels like she is several months pregnant and also complains about weakness in her abdominal area and a feeling of pressure. She does a quick search on Google and is quickly overwhelmed by a plethora of conflicting information. Some “experts” suggest getting started on a rigorous gym routine,  while others tell her to just accept her new mummy tummy and accept that weak abdominal muscles and a heavy, bulgy feeling are normal.

After joining a mothering circle, she listens to other moms complaining about weakness in their stomach area, pain and weakness. It is then that one of the moms shares that their abdominal issues may be due to a separation of their ab muscles, (also known as a diastasis recti).

mom

So what is diastasis recti . . . ?

A diastasis recti is a separation of your outer most abdominal muscles. The job of these muscles (called rectus abdominis), is to support your back and your organs.

ab-sep

Did you know . . . ?

Everyone is born with their muscles separated! Usually, the muscles come together when we are three years old after our nervous system has developed. But this does not necessarily happen with everyone.  Because our belly button is a weak spot in the connective tissue, even if the muscles do come together, there is always the risk that they may come apart again.

 

“So what can I do about it . . .?”

A diastasis can be closed on anyone at any time.  It does not matter when you had your baby or even if you have had a baby at all! Closing a diastasis is all about healing the connective tissue.  Everyone’s connective tissue will heal at a different rate. It depends on the “condition” of your connective tissue.  The weaker your connective tissue the longer it will take.  Also, the connective tissue on people who have stretch marks will take longer to heal.

diastasis-recti-copyright

Healing the connective tissue is all about putting it in a better (narrow) position, bringing blood flow to it and protecting it when doing any type of activities so it is not being stretched nor does it have any intra-abdominal force or pressure on it.

Surgery should be your very last resort! If you decide on surgery, your abdominals must be strengthened beforehand  to maintain the integrity of the sutures.  The surgery to repair this requires a hipbone to hipbone incision.  The recovery from this surgery is very difficult.

Thankfully, there are  research and evidenced based exercise programs, such as the Tupler Technique®, that work with your body to treat diastasis recti and help you regain proper function and strength!

 

 

Sources:

 

 

 

 

Published by Dr. Cora T Huitt

Cora T. Huitt, PT, DPT, BCB-PMD ~Thirty seven years of clinical practice, specializing in women's health for fifteen years. ~BS Degree in Allied Health Professions, Ohio State University, '72. ~Master of Arts in College Teaching (MACT) focus in Physical Therapy & Therapeutic Exercise, University of North Carolina, '76. ~ Doctorate of Physical Therapy, Alabama State University, 2010 ~Attended multiple courses offered in Women's Health Physical Therapy, including Pelvic 1, 2, 3 Course in Women's Health Section APTA. ~Member of VPTA and APTA, Women's Health Section. ~BCIA-PMDB Biofeedback- Pelvic Muscle Dysfunction Biofeedback. ~Certified Pilates instructor, ProHealth. ~Affiliate member of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. ~Member of International Continence Society. ~Member of National Vulvodynia Association. ~Adjunct Clinical Faculty for student affiliation at multiple universities. ~Director of APTA Women's Health Residency since 2007, credentialed in 2008. (only other residency at Duke Unviersity)

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