Diastasis Recti Before and After: Exploring Non-Surgical Solutions for Abdominal Separation

Diastasis Recti, or abdominal separation, is a condition many women face postpartum. A significant issue with Diastasis Recti is not merely the condition itself, but the pervasive belief that it’s a permanent issue that can …

diastasis recti

Diastasis Recti, or abdominal separation, is a condition many women face postpartum. A significant issue with Diastasis Recti is not merely the condition itself, but the pervasive belief that it’s a permanent issue that can only be resolved through surgery. This misconception is reinforced by some healthcare professionals, making many women feel they have no other options. While surgery can repair Diastasis Recti, it’s not the only option, nor is it necessarily the best one available. Natural healing is possible, and this article will explore what Diastasis Recti is, why it happens, and the non-surgical options available for treatment.

Understanding Diastasis Recti

What is Diastasis Recti?

Diastasis Recti, often referred to as abdominal separation, commonly occurs in women who have been pregnant. As the baby grows, the uterus presses against the abdominal muscles and tissues, gradually widening the gap between them. This gap consists of connective tissue known as the linea alba, which stretches during pregnancy. After childbirth, the internal pressure on the abdominal muscles and tissues decreases, but the linea alba may not return to its pre-pregnancy state, resulting in a soft and squishy stomach.

Symptoms and Associated Issues Diastasis Recti

Women with Diastasis Recti not only experience changes in their abdominal appearance but are also prone to other health concerns, including:

  • Lower back pain
  • Pelvic or hip pain
  • Painful sex
  • Incontinence
  • Constipation
  • Postural issues
  • Increased risk of abdominal hernia
  • Pelvic organ prolapse
  • Difficulty lifting heavy objects

These symptoms can significantly impact daily life and self-confidence. Studies indicate that as many as 68% of women postpartum suffer from Diastasis Recti, meaning more than half of women who have been pregnant will experience some degree of abdominal separation.

Diagnosing Diastasis Recti

Self-Assessment Diastasis Recti

A simple self-test can help determine if you have Diastasis Recti:

  1. Lie on your back on a flat surface with your knees bent and feet flat.
  2. Lift your head off the floor slightly, using one hand for support.
  3. Place your fingers on your belly, pointing towards your knees.
  4. Feel the gap between the two sides of your abdominal muscles.

Test the gap with your fingers:

  • One finger: Typically normal.
  • One to two fingers: Borderline.
  • Two to three fingers: Mild Diastasis.
  • Four or more fingers: Severe Diastasis.

If the gap feels soft and your fingers sink deeply, it indicates that the linea alba has been significantly stretched and compromised, making the healing process longer.

Surgical Options and Their Downsides Diastasis Recti

Diastasis Recti Repair Surgery

Diastasis Recti repair surgery, or abdominoplasty, is a cosmetic procedure aimed at restoring the abdominal muscles to their pre-pregnancy state. It involves stitches to pull the abdominal muscles together, often requiring a general anesthetic and resulting in scar tissue. The procedure can vary from minor incisions and minimal skin removal to more extensive operations, including liposuction, hernia repair, and belly button relocation.

Downsides and Complications Diastasis Recti

While surgery can provide desired results, it has several downsides:

  • Cost: Prices range from $5,000 to $20,000 or more, often not covered by insurance.
  • Side Effects: These can include incontinence, prolapse, other pelvic floor dysfunctions, and back pain.
  • Pregnancy and Weight Gain: Subsequent pregnancies and weight gain can affect surgical results.
  • Complications: Potential issues include wound infections, incision reopening, swelling, pain, asymmetry, and numbness.
  • Scarring and Tissue Damage: Surgery results in scar tissue, which is less elastic and can lead to movement restrictions and chronic pain.

Moreover, surgery alone does not address weak core muscles and pelvic floor dysfunction, often accompanying Diastasis Recti. A holistic approach combining surgery with physical therapy, exercise, and dietary changes is necessary for complete recovery.

Non-Surgical Treatment Options

Physical Therapy

Working with a physical therapist specializing in pelvic floor health can help address underlying issues exacerbating Diastasis Recti symptoms. A personalized exercise routine can strengthen the core and improve before and after results without surgery.

Hypopressive Exercises

The hypopressive method involves specific postures, exercises, and breathing techniques to reduce intra-abdominal pressure, relieve pain, and train the abdominal and pelvic muscles to engage correctly. This method can significantly improve Diastasis Recti by strengthening the core and pelvic floor muscles.

Posture and Breathing Adjustments

How you breathe, walk, stand, and sit affects abdominal separation. Adjusting your posture and improving breathing techniques can help recruit core and glute muscles correctly, building the strength needed to alleviate symptoms.

Lifestyle and Dietary Changes

Lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking and adopting a balanced diet rich in fiber and probiotics, can ease constipation and reduce pelvic floor stress. Bone broth and collagen supplements provide nutrients necessary for tissue healing.

Exercises to Improve Diastasis Recti

Regularly performing specific exercises can strengthen the core and improve Diastasis Recti. Here are some effective exercises:

1. Transverse Abdominal Breathing

  • How to do it: Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat. Place your hands on your belly. Inhale deeply, expanding your ribcage and belly. Exhale, drawing your belly button towards your spine and engaging your transverse abdominis (deep abdominal muscles).
  • Benefits: Strengthens deep abdominal muscles and reduces the gap between the rectus abdominis.

2. Pelvic Tilts

  • How to do it: Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat. Tilt your pelvis up and flatten your lower back against the floor. Hold for a few seconds, then release.
  • Benefits: Strengthens the lower abdominal muscles and stabilizes the pelvis.

3. Heel Slides

  • How to do it: Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat. Engage your core, then slowly slide one heel away from your body, keeping your foot in contact with the floor. Slide it back to the starting position and repeat with the other leg.
  • Benefits: Strengthens the lower abs without putting pressure on the abdominal separation.

4. Modified Planks

  • How to do it: Begin on your hands and knees. Engage your core, then lift one leg and the opposite arm, keeping your spine neutral. Hold for a few seconds, then switch sides.
  • Benefits: Strengthens the entire core without excessive pressure on the linea alba.

5. Bridges

  • How to do it: Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat. Engage your core and lift your hips towards the ceiling, forming a straight line from shoulders to knees. Hold for a few seconds, then lower back down.
  • Benefits: Strengthens the glutes, lower back, and core muscles.

Case Studies: Non-Surgical Diastasis Recti Improvement

Case Study 1: Sarah’s Journey

Sarah, a mother of two, was diagnosed with Diastasis Recti six months postpartum. Initially, she considered surgery but decided to explore non-surgical options first. Working with a physical therapist, she adopted a personalized exercise routine and made dietary changes, including collagen supplements. Over six months, Sarah saw significant improvement. Her abdominal gap reduced from three fingers to one, and she experienced less back pain and increased core strength.

Case Study 2: Maria’s Experience with Hypopressive Exercises

Maria, a fitness enthusiast, discovered she had Diastasis Recti after her second pregnancy. She chose hypopressive exercises to heal her abdominal separation. With regular practice, Maria noticed her core muscles engaging more effectively, and her abdominal gap reduced significantly. She avoided surgery and regained her pre-pregnancy strength and fitness levels.

Holistic Approach to Healing Diastasis Recti

Healing Diastasis Recti requires a holistic approach that combines physical therapy, exercise, dietary changes, and lifestyle adjustments. Here’s a comprehensive plan for managing and improving Diastasis Recti without surgery:

Step 1: Assessment and Professional Guidance

  • Consult a Physical Therapist: Seek help from a physical therapist specializing in pelvic floor health for a personalized assessment and exercise plan.
  • Self-Assessment: Regularly check the gap between your abdominal muscles to monitor progress.

Step 2: Core Strengthening Exercises

  • Transverse Abdominal Breathing: Practice daily to strengthen deep core muscles.
  • Pelvic Tilts and Heel Slides: Incorporate these exercises into your routine for lower abdominal strength.
  • Modified Planks and Bridges: Gradually add these to enhance overall core stability.

Step 3: Posture and Breathing Adjustments

  • Improve Posture: Be mindful of your posture throughout the day, ensuring proper alignment while sitting, standing, and walking.
  • Breathing Techniques: Practice diaphragmatic breathing to reduce intra-abdominal pressure and engage core muscles correctly.

Step 4: Dietary and Lifestyle Changes

  • Balanced Diet: Eat a diet rich in fiber, protein, and collagen to support tissue healing.
  • Hydration: Drink plenty of water to maintain overall health and support connective tissue recovery.
  • Quit Smoking: Avoid smoking to promote healthier connective tissues.

Step 5: Regular Monitoring and Adaptation

  • Track Progress: Keep a journal of your symptoms, exercise routine, and changes in the abdominal gap.
  • Adjust Routine: Modify your exercise and lifestyle plan based on progress and professional guidance.


Diastasis Recti is a common condition many women face postpartum

women face postpartum

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