What on earth is this weird sounding name called diastasis recti?
You are not alone as most people have never heard of it but get in a friendship group and mention a post birth baby boep (South African slang for belly) and most Moms identify with that immediately! In my previous blogs we spoke about the 4th trimester, being more knowledgeable and then how to take control of your own body.
So diastasis here we go…
I vaguely remember my lovely British midwife who delivered my third baby naturally at home in Cape Town telling me at my 6 week check-up that I had diastasis recti. She gave me a few tips on how to close it but I did not really understand or get my head around it as I was so determined to get fit again and resume teaching. Hey, after all I was the aerobics manager at the then ‘Table View Health and Racquet Club’ (now Virgin Active), so I had to look the part and go back to work after my 3 month maternity leave not looking like Bessy Bunter (for you young ones, Google her to get my drift) on the podium.
I remember felling gutted when I ventured out to the local shopping centre (Bayside for the locals) 2 weeks after my baby and hearing via the grape vine “OMG Have you seen Denise, she still looks pregnant!”. Well, when I heard that it made me go on a strict diet and punish myself with a gruelling exercise program, which ultimately lead to back pain because I wasn’t ready due to a weakened core (more about diastasis recti/weak pelvic floor and core/when to return to exercise coming later).
Okay, let’s get this diastasis recti nailed down. Firstly, what exactly is it?
It is defined as a gap of roughly 2.7cm or greater between the two sides of the rectus abdominis muscle.
In normal English this means that your belly sticks out because the space between the left and right tummy muscles has widened and you end up with a ‘pooch’. It is actually very common among pregnant women and about 2/3 of pregnant women have it. Having more than one child makes this condition more likely, especially if they are close in age. You are also more susceptible if you are over 35 when pregnant or carrying a heavy baby or having a multiple pregnancy.
Pregnancy puts pressure on the stomach that sometimes the muscles in front can’t keep their shape, so diastasis means separation, while recti refers to your abdominal muscles called the rectus abdominis.
When the ab muscles move aside like this, the uterus, bowels, and other organs have only a thin band of connective tissue in front to hold them in place. This condition can cause lower back ache, constipation and urine leakage. It can even make it harder to breathe and to move normally. It is rare but in extreme cases the tissue may tear and organs may poke out of the opening – that’s called a hernia.
The tummy gap often shrinks after giving birth, but in some studies of women with diastasis recti the muscle was not back to normal even a year later.
How does having diastasis recti make you feel?
Many women say that when they have a tummy gap and do not understand it, they feel fat, ugly, vulnerable, unconfident, and self-conscious. The good news is that with the correct knowledge and exercise this gap can heal and with your core restored you can get your pre-baby body back.
How do you know if you have it?
Watch my video (scroll to the bottom of this page and enter your email address to be taken to video) for guidance on how to self-diagnose. Don’t panic if you think you have it as with my knowledge and holistic healing program, plus some elbow grease on your part, you CAN make steps to close it naturally.
Yours in health, Denise