Our bodies naturally stretch to accommodate our growing babies inside of us during pregnancy. With the growth of our bellies also comes a separation of the abdominal muscles creating what is known as diastasis recti (DR).
Once your bundle of joy is born, sometimes you need to work to help the muscles become connected again to exercise optimally. If you are wondering whether you have diastasis recti or not, you can visit a pelvic floor physical therapist or perform a quick test yourself.
This assessment is non-invasive and will help determine how much rehabilitation your core will need.
How Can I Tell If I Have Diastasis Recti After Pregnancy?
You may suspect you have diastasis recti if you notice coning or doming of your abdomen when washing your hair, picking up your kids, or trying to perform exercises such as sit-ups or planks. If you see this happening, you may have diastasis recti. Or, if you are just curious, you can always do the self-test I discuss below.
How Long Does Diastasis Recti Last After Pregnancy?
If abdominal separation is not addressed correctly once your little one has arrived, it may never go away. Some mothers have only a slight ab separation that heals itself postpartum within about six weeks.
If not, proper breathing and core exercises may need to be done. However, it is never too late to repair your diastasis recti. Whether you are three months or 30 years postpartum, you can strengthen your muscles and close the separation.
When to Check for Diastasis Recti
Checking for diastasis recti can be done anytime, including during pregnancy. However, it is best to wait about six weeks postpartum before checking for diastasis recti.
After six weeks, your hormones have regulated, and your body has done most of its healing so you can assess if you have any residual diastasis that needs addressing.
Does Walking Help Diastasis Recti?
Walking after having a baby is a great way to introduce mild exercise and can help in strengthening your abdominals. When we walk, our lower abdominal muscles are being utilized to move each leg which is beneficial for diastasis recti.
With that being said, it is not the most effective form of exercise to heal diastasis and most likely will not be completely healed with only walking.
Diastasis Recti Self-Test
In just a few short minutes, you can quickly assess your core and see if you need to incorporate some ab-building movements.
- Lay on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
- Take your index and middle finger, place them 2 inches above your belly button and turn them horizontally.
- Tuck your chin and slightly lift your head off the floor while pushing your fingers down. If there is separation, you will be able to feel a gap.
- Determine how many fingers fit through the separation and the depth.
- Repeat these steps at your belly button and 2 inches below your belly button.
It is considered normal to have up to a two-finger width ab separation, but anything wider than that will need core strengthening exercises. Any depth in your core is a sign that your abdominals may be weak.
Once you determine how wide and deep your ab separation is, you will better know how to strengthen your core during your postpartum workouts.
I Have Diastasis Recti, Now What?
You have a few options if you have done this self-test and discovered you have diastasis recti. If you’re ready to get started right away, check out my free two-week postpartum workout plan that can help you heal your abdominals immediately after birth.
You can also find a pelvic floor therapist to work with you individually on your imbalances or work with a pre/postnatal coach to give you exercises that will help strengthen your pelvic floor. Now that you know if you have core weaknesses, you can work to become a stronger and healthier you!