Diastasis Recti Postpartum: Exercises, Recovery, Symptoms

diastasis recti postpartum health

Diastasis Recti Exercises Postpartum

Need some trusted diastasis recti exercises postpartum to correct and help heal your abdominal separation? Is diastasis recti pain causing you unnecessary discomfort?

I am here to help YOU.

Healing diastasis recti takes time. Fixing ab separation cannot be done by some magic exercise and there are certainly some diastasis exercises to avoid.

NO exercises will cure or stop your DR, but the right ones can assist in the healing process. And strengthen your core.

In my Core Rehab for Mamas program I will show you how to heal diastasis recti and abdominal separation.

Most new mothers who join my postpartum exercise classes do not know how to exercise after childbirth when they have abdominal separation.

I know, I get it, you may want to start losing unwanted baby weight. But what you need the most, right now, is to allow your body to heal and recovery. When your body has healed, then my Stronger Mama Challenge is for you.

If you don't, you could more serious harm and injury to yourself. In some cases, surgery may be needed. So please be kind to yourself right now.

And seek help from a physical therapist when required.

What Is Diastasis Recti?

Diastasis means 'separation' and Recti refers to your ab muscles called the 'rectus abdominis' which are the outermost abdominal muscles. So Diastasis recti is a separation of the outermost abdominal muscles.

What Causes A Diastasis?

The belly button is a weak spot in the connective tissue and continuous pressure, stretching, or intra-abdominal force placed on this weak spot of the connective tissue can cause the muscles to separate.

What is Diastasis - let's learn more about healing your abdominal separation

Diastasis Recti Symptoms

Signs include a protruding belly and a bulge when getting up from a supine position. Also:

1. Lower back pain

2. Poor posture

3. Constipation

4. Bloating

Learn more about my Postpartum Recovery Program >

Who Can Get Diastasis?

Diastasis is often associated with pregnancy. However; women, men and even children can get diastasis. Besides pregnancy, other examples of what can create a DR or make a diastasis larger include:

1. Exercises like crunches, planking.

2. Extreme weight gain.

3. Abdominal surgery.

4. Back-bends.

5. Certain activities and sports (tennis, golf, swimming).

What Causes a Diastasis?

The belly button is a weak spot in the connective tissue and continuous pressure, stretching, or intra-abdominal force placed on this weak spot of the connective tissue can cause the muscles to separate.

The signs of a diastasis include a protruding belly and a bulge when getting up from a supine position.

Diastasis Recti Exercises Postpartum - Do they Help?

Including the right diastasis recti repair exercises into your workouts will help to restore deep abdominal control. AND promote abdominal muscle recovery after pregnancy and childbirth.

But, if you do the wrong ones, it can cause further harm.

Your goal when performing these exercises is to ensure you are using the correct deep abdominal activation technique. Your exercises should progressively challenge the deep abdominal muscles to further promote core control.

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Abdominal Exercises for Diastasis Recti

Immediately after childbirth is a time to allow your body to heal and recover. I know your primary focus is on looking after your beautiful newborn baby. AND my focus is to look after YOU and your health!

Therefore gaining access to safe postpartum exercises is essential for your recovery. I cringe when I see some new mothers jump straight back into their pre-pregnancy workouts.

Your First 12 Weeks After Childbirth

This very important postpartum recovery period is when your body needs to heal. You will be experiencing some new and possibly uncomfortable body changes.

I want you to continue doing your Kegels (Pelvic floor) as this will help to reduce or prevent unwanted leakage. During this period your focus is on recovery, and when ready, then you can start to think about losing unwanted baby weight.

Self-check for DR

1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. You can place a pillow under your head for more comfort.

2. Place three fingers just above your belly button facing down towards your feet.

3. Gently lift your head off the ground and you should feel the ridges of the rectus abdominals.

You are trying to feel how far apart (in finger distance) these two ridges are away from each other.


Test at different locations down the mid-line from just above your belly button, to just below. It is most common for the biggest part of the separation to be around the belly button.

The depth that your fingers go down into your belly is a test to see the condition of the Linea Alba (the connective tissue between the rectus abdominal muscles).

The further down your fingers go into your belly, the weaker the Linea Alba. Avoid having your head up for too long, if needed lower your head and repeat to continue the check.

Self Check for Diastasis Recti Postpartum

Your Recovery is Unique to You

You should always consult medical advice if you do have a diastasis. And I want you to only start an exercise program once you have been given approval by your doctor. Every woman will have their own individual needs and will recover in their own time.

When Do I Start Diastasis Recti Exercises Postpartum?

You will most likely remain in hospital for several days (longer if you had a caesarean). Your nurse will assist you to gradually get out of bed and be active with short walks or gentle exercises. If you had a caesarean your recovery will be quite different.

Diastasis recti is a separation of the outer rectus abdominis muscles where they join in the mid-line of the abdomen.

We often see too many women return to inappropriate abdominal exercises after childbirth. This only prevents or delays their recovery and contributes to a range of associated problems. So, get medical approval first. The degree of your abdominal separation may impact on your workouts.

Diastasis Exercises to Avoid after Pregnancy

Immediately after childbirth, you must avoid intense core abdominal exercises. These include crunches, planking, abdominal curls and heavily loaded resistance exercises during your postnatal workouts.

Some trainers promote these exercises to a healthy population. However, these exercises will only increase unwanted strain on your upper and deep abdominal muscles post baby. This causes them to separate further which impacts on the healing process.

Diastasis Recti Exercises Postpartum

Exercise 1 Pelvic Tilts with Gentle Abdominal Activation

1. Start by lying on your back, bend your knees.

2. Gently engage your deep core abdominal muscles.

To feel this, place the heel of your hands on your hip bones and have your finger face down towards your pubic bone.

Then gently think about drawing your belly button inwards and feel your lower belly gently draw back.

3. Stay with just this, or add pelvic tilts by flattening your back and engaging your deep abdominals and pelvic floor. Then gently arching your back and relaxing all muscles.

Learn more about my Postpartum Recovery Program >

Diastasis Recti Exercise Postpartum 2 - Single or Double Knee Drops

1. Lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat.

2. Drop either one or both knees to one side. If you do single ensure the other knee stays still.

3. Gently engage your abdominals to lift the knee (or knees) back to the starting point.

DR Exercise 3 - Leg Slides

1. Starting position - Lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat.

2. Slide one leg away from you, keeping the heel on the ground, let straight.

3. Slide it back in, keeping your pelvic floor and deep abdominals gently activated.

4. Alternate sides.

5. Once you are ready to advance (remember not to rush into advancements!) you can lift the foot off the ground and lengthen it long without the heel touching the ground.

Diastasis Recti Exercise Postpartum 4 - Single leg lifts

1. Lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat.

2. Slowly lift one leg up so the knee is directly above the hip.

3. Ensure the heel is in line with the knee so you are creating a 90 degree angle at the knee.

4. Keep that same angle as you lower the leg back down.

5. Repeat on the other side.

6. To advance, add leg extensions.

How Long to Heal Diastasis Recti Postpartum

How long does it take it heal diastasis recti postpartum? That is a very good question. There are so many variables when it comes to diastasis recti including what happened in your:

1. pregnancy

2. birth

3. early postpartum

The other thing to remember is that diastasis recti is more than just about the gap.

The integrity of the linea alba is so very important and this is where we talk about the 'depth' of the diastasis.

For more details on doing a self check watch this:How to Do a Self Check for Diastasis Recti >

For my free 7 Day Diastasis Recti Challenge visit: Free Diastasis Recti Challenge >

How Long to Heal Diastasis

How Can I Find the Time for Exercise?

When you are a new mother you will likely be sleep-deprived, tired, exhausted and will struggle to find the time for any exercise or activity. This is why our postpartum program includes video workouts of only 20 minutes.

Taking this time out of your busy schedule for yourself will provide some great benefits to you both physically and mentally.

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Here are some tips:

1. Always be guided by your doctor.

2. Be kind to yourself! You are not trying to set any personal bests during this postnatal period.

3. Communicate with your partner, family and friends your need to get some time to yourself so you can workout.

4. Walking your baby is also a good way to get some exercise and fresh air.

5. Stop immediately if you experience any pain or discomfort.

Look after Yourself!

1. Wear an appropriate bra that offers good support.

2. Wear comfortable clothing and appropriate footwear.

3. Take regular rest periods when required.

4. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.

5. Start off slowly and if possible progress to getting 30 minutes a day of activity.

6. You can always have your baby near you as you perform a short video workout.

Effects Of Abdominal Separation On The Body?

The outermost muscles support your back and organs and when they separate the connective tissue then becomes your support system. As a result this thin connective tissue is not a good support system for your back and organs.

Side effects include:

1. Pelvic floor problems (incontinence, prolapses).

2. Back pain.

3. Poor posture.

4. Gastrointestinal disturbances (bloating, constipation).

5. Umbilical hernia.

Is Diastasis Causing My Back Pain Post Pregnancy?

Yes, a diastasis can cause back pain. As discussed above, your outermost abdominal muscles support your back. Your back pain can occur because the connective tissues no longer provide a good support system for your back.

Can a Diastasis Cause Constipation?

Yes, a diastasis can cause constipation. When the muscles separate the organs can get displaced. This displacement can put the bowel out of alignment which can cause constipation.

Why Do I Feel A Bulge?

When you get up from a supine position this bulge are your organs moving forward against this weak connective tissue. This bulge is a sign of a very severe diastasis.

How Long Does It Take To Close?

The time frame to heal a diastasis depends on the severity of your diastasis and will vary for each person. It can take anywhere from six weeks to a year or more. This is why it is essential you participate in a postnatal recovery program that continues for months and even years after your pregnancy.

Do Some People's Diastasis Close Faster Than Others?

If you have weaker connective tissue it will take longer to heal. Everyone is different which is why some women heal faster than others. Hormones such as relaxin and also multiple births can weaken the connective tissue.

How Will I Know When My Belly Has Healed?

The key to closing a diastasis is all about healing the connective tissue. You will have a good idea of when you diastasis has closed when you conduct the diastasis check.

You do this by placing your fingers in to check your diastasis and they do not go down that deep. A one finger diastasis with shallow connective tissue is what you should aim for.

Learn more about my Postpartum Recovery Program >

Can A Diastasis Come Apart Once It Is Closed?

Yes, continuous intra-abdominal force and pressure on this weak spot in the middle of the connective tissue (belly button) will separate your muscles. This why is very important you participate in a specifically-designed post pregnancy workout well beyond the postpartum period.

Can a Diastasis Get Worse?

Yes, stretching, increased intra-abdominal force and pressure on connective tissue can make a diastasis worse if you have one. This is why you MUST participate in a specific program that takes into account your diastasis. Certain activities, sports, exercises and movements can make your diastasis worse.

Can Pushing Incorrectly Cause A Diastasis?

Yes, incorrect pushing in labour can create a diastasis or make an existing diastasis worse. This is why participating in a pre natal class is important as it can teach you the correct skills when it comes to pushing and what positions are best for you during labour.

Is Wearing A Baby Carrier Bad?

Yes, using a carrier where your baby is positioned in front of you can cause additional weight and pressure to be placed upon on the weak connective tissue.

Diastasis recti Complications

1. Back pain.

2. Pelvic pain.

3. Damage to your posture.

4. In extreme cases, a hernia.

5. Jeopardized trunk stability and mobility.

6. Problems with your posture.

7. Slower recovery after childbirth!

Watch this Video on Exercises to Avoid

Diastasis Recti Treatment

1. Deep abdominal muscle activation postpartum exercises.

2. Avoiding inappropriate abdominal exercises.

3. Modifying everyday activities to avoid abdominal strain.

4. Always consult medical advice if you do have a diastasis.

5. Your recovery time will be different to others.

6. If you had a caesarean your recovery will be quite different.

7. Immediately after childbirth, avoid intense core abdominal exercises.

8. Avoid any heavy lifting or further straining of your abdominal muscles.

9. Avoid lifting or carrying heavy loads.

When Is Diastasis Recti Surgery Necessary?

Your doctor will guide you on your options for treating and managing your specific health matters. They may recommend surgery when the connective tissue has torn away from the muscle and the organs are exposed. Here is an article I wrote on diastasis recti surgery >

Do diastasis recti splints work?

Using a splint, or belly binding, is thought to help close the diastasis recti gap. And what we all know is that 'sucking it in' or forcefully pulling your stomach in to make it appear flatter is not a viable long-term solution.

Belly binding may 'hold you in' and provide support to your lower back, but wearing a splint won't strengthen the muscles. It also misses a few very important points when it comes to treating abdominal separation.

I am Here for YOU!

Our PregActive community of new mothers, just like you, are here to help. We get it. We know what you are experiencing. My postpartum recovery program can help you to reduce some of those annoying and embarrassing body changes. My workouts have been designed by myself and my team of health care professionals.

You can start this postpartum recovery program anytime and continue to do it beyond the 12 weeks.

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