Let’s look today at Diastasis Recti — which is a condition that makes many women still look pregnant even after they’ve given birth.

Most women accept that pregnancy and childbirth changes their bodies. That’s true, but what they don’t realise is that some of these changes can be fixed. Diastasis Recti, Postnatal Incontinence and Vaginal Dryness & Laxity can be fixed, and should be fixed before they cause other related issues.

What is Diastasis Recti?

Diastasis recti fingers gap at the linea alba
Diastasis recti is defined as a 2–3 finger gap at the linea alba

Diastasis Recti is the separation of the rectus abdominis muscles, what many refer to as the ‘six-pack’ muscles. The separation occurs along the midline of the abdominis muscles (called the linea alba).

During pregnancy, the weight and pressure of the uterus pushing against the abdominal wall, coupled with hormonal changes, soften the connective tissues. This commonly occurs during the last half of pregnancy or after pregnancy. Most women’s midline closes after labour, but for many, the gap remains and the midline separates to about a 2–3 finger width.

Diastasis Recti can lead to other problems such as:

  • Pelvic instability
  • Pelvic girdle pain
  • Pelvic organ prolapse
  • Sacroiliac joint pain
  • Lower back pain
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Urinary or Fecal Incontinence
  • Umbilical Hernia

Can you do anything to prevent Diastasis Recti before pregnancy? Our advice is to keep the abdominal muscles strong during pregnancy, maintain proper posture, and we teach patients proper exercise techniques and body mechanics. 55% of women suffer from Diastasis Recti immediately after delivery — prevention is a good way to lower your chances.

If you have Diastasis Recti, there are some exercises that you should avoid:

  • Abdominal sit-ups
  • Crunches
  • Oblique curls
  • Upper body twisting exercises
  • Backbending exercises
  • Yoga postures that stretch the abdominals
  • Pilates exercises that require the head to be lifted
  • Intense or hard coughing without abdominal support
  • Any exercise or movement that causes your abdominal wall to bulge or expand upon exertion

Correcting Diastasis Recti

Core stabilisation, postural training, abdominal braces, proper mobility techniques and exercises are great in the process of treating Diastasis Recti. We recommend seeing a qualified pelvic floor physical therapist who will be able to provide guided exercises for the patient. Every patient is different, which is why a private, one-to-one session would be best.

How long does it take to heal?

If a patient doesn’t see sufficient closure in 12 months with consistent rehabilitation efforts, then a surgical repair may be required. We advice patients to start rehab work soon after childbirth to close the gap. The wider the gap, the longer rehabilitation is required, but change should happen within 6 weeks of rehab.

Non-surgical methods are also available with today’s medical technology. You can find out more from Orchard Clinic.

This article was first posted on medium.com

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