The medical world has the tendency of assigning overly complicated words to conditions that are easily explained. For instance, diastasis recti. Doesn’t it just sound rare and terrifying? If you hear that word you’ll probably think there’s something terribly wrong going on. But my friend, that’s why we’re here. As always, I get you and I got you. I’ll explain what it is, what you can do about it, and how it’s connected to leaks. And it isn’t as scary as it sounds — I promise.
What Is Diastasis Recti?
In normal people language, diastasis recti is just a separation in your ab muscles. It’s very common and by common, I mean 3 million US cases per year common. In the medical world, the gap between the two sides of your ab muscles has to be at least 2.7 centimeters wide to be considered diastasis recti.
And Who Does It Affect?
Now you’re probably wondering, who is really at risk for something like this? Well, women that have had more than one child, were over 35 when pregnant, or were pregnant with multiples are most at risk. Ladies often notice that they’ve got diastasis recti when they haven’t “snapped back” to their pre-mom bod and still have a pregnant-like bulge. You know, that beloved (or not so beloved) “pooch.”
What Are The Symptoms of Diastasis Recti?
Although a pooch is the most noticeable sign of diastasis recti, there are a few other symptoms to look for as well. You might notice lower back pain, abdominal pain, or even a hernia. While you might be able to keep a stiff upper lip about those problems, it will probably be harder to miss some of the more noticeable symptoms.
“No Incontinence” For $100?
Sprinkles, spritz, and drips anyone? That’s right, diastasis recti is another one of those conditions that can bring on bladder leaks (yep, bladder and fecal). Abdominal separation indicates that there is weakness of the abdominal wall and this can lead to pelvic floor dysfunctions, most notably, pelvic organ prolapse. On the flip side, some women experience feeling a little backed up in the poop department. Everyone’s case is truly unique. The good news is that we at Lily Bird have all kinds of recommendations for bladder leaks. Just take a look around this blog and then order your trial for our pads or disposable underwear.
How Can I Prevent Diastasis Recti?
So, if you are pregnant or plan on getting pregnant, you’re probably wondering how you can prevent diastasis recti. The bad news is, it isn’t always possible to prevent it as everyone’s body is different. However, the good news is, you should focus on keeping your core strong. You can do that by exercising throughout your pregnancy, maintaining good posture, and leaving any heavy lifting to your mate. Keep in mind that even when you try your best to prevent it, you’ll probably still have some degree of diastasis recti following pregnancy. The issue comes more when it doesn’t correct itself. What happens then?
How Can We Treat Diastasis Recti?
If you find yourself with diastasis recti, there are a few things you can do. For starters, try to lay off of crunches and exercises that may stress your core. It may be tempting to attempt to “fix” the problem through exercise, but that may make it worse.
Consider These Exercises
Now, I’m not saying that exercising is bad, but you do have to be mindful of the types of exercises you do. One option involves trying to close the gap caused by diastasis recti. You do that by wrapping a towel or bedsheet tightly around your waist, laying down on your back, and doing mini-sit ups. Special exercises like these, done under advisement and for an extended period of time, can help you close the gap. However, before you start anything, see what your doctor has to say about it first!
Another great option for correcting diastasis recti is an abdominal brace. An abdominal brace will basically train your muscles to close. However, there is some debate as to the merits of a brace. Some worry that you’ll become overly reliant on the brace and therefore take longer to recover, but it’s still a valuable support tool.
What About My Pelvic Floor?
No one would blame you if your main concern about diastasis recti is bladder leaks (aka incontinence). Many women feel as if they can work with the abdominal muscle problems caused by diastasis recti; but what can you do about your pelvic floor? In some extreme cases, surgical intervention is the best option but you can also do Kegels, change your diet, train your bladder, and more to help with the leaks. Pads and disposable underwear can help too! We know that diastasis recti is the last thing you want to deal with but if it does happen to you, keep your chin up. You have options, both in terms of recovery, and how you deal with your symptoms until then.
By Jessica Thomas, MPH