Bulging Belly or Diastasis Recti

Overview

Diastasis Recti is a partial or complete separation of the left and right abdominal muscles. This condition is very common during or after pregnancy and is caused by hormonal changes and the pressure of a growing baby pushing the abdominal muscles out of place.

Diastasis Recti is defined as a gap larger than 2.7cm or a gap of about 3 fingers between the two sides of the rectus abdominis muscle at the midline of the abdomen.

Diastasis Recti can lead to:

  • Compromised core stability and mobility
  • Postural issues
  • Lower back pain
  • Pelvic floor dysfunction
  • Urinary incontinence
  • And in extreme cases, hernia (organ squeezing out through a weak spot in the surrounding muscular tissue)

Symptoms

The most common symptom of Diastasis Recti is a visible pooch or bulge in your stomach, especially when you strain or contract your abdominal muscles. Additional symptoms include: lower back pain and poor posture.

You can do a self-test to check if you have Diastasis Recti. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Put one hand on your belly, with your fingers on your midline at your navel. Press your fingertips down gently, and bring your head up into a mini crunch-like position with shoulders remaining on the ground. Feel if there is a separation in your rectus abdominis muscles that is two or three finger wide, or more.

Causes

Diastasis Recti is caused by the stretching of a connective collagen sheath with excessive inner-abdominal pressure. This most frequently occurs in pregnant or postpartum women.

During pregnancy, the growing uterus expands your abdominal muscles and connective tissues, further aided by the hormones relaxin and estrogen. Pushing during delivery can also lead to diastasis recti.

The abdominal muscles work alongside the pelvic floor muscles, so it is common to face both pelvic floor dysfunction or urinary incontinence and Diastasis Recti at the same time.

Risk factors

Being pregnant when you are over 35, or having multiple childbirths make this condition more likely especially if they are close in age. Mothers who have a heavy baby, twins or triplets or more are also more likely to have Diastasis Recti.

Complications

With a separation of the abdomen, the uterus, bowels, and other organs are supported by a thin band of connective tissue. This could cause other complications such as: 

  • Difficult vaginal delivery
  • Lower back pain
  • Constipation
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Hernia, in extreme cases

Prevention

Strengthening your core muscles before you get pregnant or in the early stages of pregnancy might help prevent Diastasis Recti. It’s best to avoid putting excess strain on your abdominal muscles while pregnant.

Constipation, heavy lifting while standing up and sitting down can add significant pressure on the weak belly tissue, and should be avoided. Some exercises such as abdominal crunches, sit-ups and exercises focused on contracting the core muscles will further aggravate the condition.

Treatments

Treatment at Orchard Clinic focuses on allowing the body to overcome this condition without the use of medication or hormone therapy.

Electromagnetic Therapy

Electromagnetic therapy to stimulate neuromuscular tissue and facilitate muscle strengthening. 

Clinical Yoga & Pilates

General strengthening to rebuild muscles supporting the core.

Exilis Ultrasound Radiofrequency

Skin tightening and fat reduction for the bulging belly.

Shockwave Therapy

Reduce cellulite and stretch marks that often accompany Diastasis Recti.

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Orchard Clinic is a specialised centre combining advanced medical technology and physical conditioning to help clients achieve healthy, pain-free lifestyles.

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302 Orchard Road
Tong Building #09-01A
Singapore 238862

E: method@orchardclinic.com
T: 65 6235 4560
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