Diastasis Recti in Pregnancy – What is it, Treatment and Top Exercises to Try

6 min read

Written by Sindhuja Prabhu

Sindhuja Prabhu

Diastasis Recti – Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

Have you ever wondered how your body makes space for your baby as it grows in your uterus? When your pregnancy bump grows, it does not just push your organs around to make space for the baby, it opens up your abdominal wall too. Are you familiar with the term diastasis recti?

Your body does wonders to support your pregnancy. Apart from the weight gain and changes in your skin, your body undergoes a lot of changes on the inside too. Diastasis recti is one such change. Not sure what we are talking about? Read on to know how diastasis recti could be the reason all those abdominal workouts postpartum are not reaping any benefits.

In This Article

What is Diastasis Recti?

Diastasis recti are the separation of your abdominal wall. When you are pregnant, as your uterus grows, it needs space. Your abdominal wall separates to let this happen. The abdominal muscles are what form your “6 packs”. 

Now, this separation can be very little or a lot. It is not permanent damage to your system. You can repair this separation and heal your diastasis recti with time and effort.

Common Causes of Diastasis Recti

Diastasis recti –is the condition in which your abdominal wall separation happens when there is excess pressure inside your abdominal walls. So it does not affect just pregnant women. Men and even babies can suffer from diastasis recti. 

Some of the most common causes of diastasis recti are:

1. Pregnant With Multiples

If you are carrying more than one baby, your uterus will grow bigger and push harder against the abdominal walls.

[Read : Pregnant With Twins? Everything You Need To Know]

2. Multiple Pregnancies

Frequent pregnancies add more pressure to your abdominal walls, increasing your risk and severity of diastasis recti.

3. Vaginal Delivery

Pushing the baby out during a vaginal delivery will add pressure to the abdominal walls.

4. Petite Mother/Big Baby

If you are very petite or if you have a big baby, the pressure on your abdominal walls throughout the pregnancy can lead to diastasis recti.

What Are the Symptoms of Diastasis Recti?

pictures of severe diastasis recti

Since diastasis recti happen inside your body and are not visible to the naked eye, the following symptoms can indicate diastasis recti:

  • A visible bulge just above or below your navel
  • The area around your navel feels soft like jelly
  • Ab muscles form a cone shape when you do crunches or other abs exercises
  • Recurrent pelvic or hip pain
  • Your posture suffers
  • Urinary incontinence –  where you feel drops of urine leak when you sneeze or cough
  • Lifting heavy objects from a lower level is difficult
  • Pain in your lower back
  • Constipation
  • Abdomen feels weak
  • Having sex hurts.

How is Diastasis Recti Diagnosed in Pregnant Women?

How is Diastasis Recti Diagnosed in Pregnant Women_

When you notice the above symptoms and visit your doctor or physiotherapist, they will diagnose diastasis recti in the following ways:

  • They will first use their fingers to feel between your abdominal walls, along your rib cage to check for gaps.
  • They will slowly put pressure and prod some areas to check the muscle tone all around your navel (belly button).
  • If necessary, they may use ultrasound, a measuring tape, or a caliper to measure the gap
  • If the gap between your abdominal walls measures more than 2 centimeters or 2 fingers width apart, it is diastasis recti.
  • Sometimes, your doctor will ask you to lie flat on your back and just lift your head and shoulders off the floor, while your back is still flat on the surface. If you have diastasis recti, you will notice a dome or cone formation around your belly button.

Many doctors check for abdominal wall separation, in the postpartum appointment itself. 

How to Prevent Diastasis Recti During Pregnancy?

You do not have any control over the size of your fetus, the type of delivery or what happens during delivery. Various factors contribute to the pressure load on your abdominal walls, leading to diastasis recti. 

So, you cannot prevent diastasis recti completely, but can decrease the chances in the following ways:

  1. Avoiding drastic weight gain during pregnancy by following a healthy diet and exercising regularly.
  2. Correcting your posture and practicing deep breathing, where you expand and contract your rib cage while breathing.
  3. By rolling to your side and getting up by pushing yourself up on your hands during and after pregnancy, instead of trying to get up by adding pressure to your abdomen.
  4. Tightening your abdominal muscles when you exercise or lift heavy things.
  5. Avoiding core exercises like crunches and situps which will add pressure to your abdominal walls.

[Read : Healthy Diet During Pregnancy]

What Are the Treatment Options For Diastasis Recti?

What Are the Treatment Options For Diastasis Recti_

Diastasis recti is not painful and is not a chronic condition. However, you cannot just ignore it. If you have diastasis recti, these are your treatment options:

  • Breathing Exercises: TVA (transverse abdominal breathing) or diaphragmatic breathing
  • Gentle Exercises: Light core exercises that do not put pressure on the abdominal walls.

Elastic belly bands can help prevent your diastasis recti from worsening and also improve your posture. However, it cannot heal your diastasis recti. Only gentle movements and breathing exercises engaging your core can.

[Read : Useful Breathing Techniques For Easing Labor]

Top 3 Diastasis Recti Exercises to Try


Diastasis recti-safe exercises do not add pressure to your abdominal walls. You need to however include exercises that work on your abdomen. The first step is to learn TVA breathing, after which you can incorporate these exercises into your routine. 

Start with about 5 -10 reps of the following exercises and increase the repetitions or sets as your core gains more strength. Do not rush to do more as it will not have any benefits in diastasis recti. 

1. Dead Bug Exercise

  • Lay down on your back with your lower back flat on the floor
  • Lift your legs up and bend at the knees (90 degrees)
  • Now stretch out one leg and bring it back
  • Repeat on the other leg
  • Alternate between the legs while you engage your abdominal muscles, to avoid coning.

2. Glute Bridges Exercise

  • Lay flat on your back
  • Bend your knees at 90 degrees and place your feet firm on the ground
  • Take a deep breath and as you inhale, engage your abdomen and lift your hips up
  • Your body from the shoulders to your feet should be in a reclining position without your abdomen coning.
  • Hold this pose for a few seconds before you relax

3. Mountain Climber Exercise

This is an advanced-level exercise, which you can do once you have good control over your TVA breathing and your coning reduces.

  • Get down to a plank position
  • Engage your core and start bringing your knee to the chest
  • Alternate the legs like you are climbing
  • You can increase the speed as your diastasis recti improve.

When Should You Consider Seeing a Doctor?

You can heal your diastasis recti at any time. It is never too late. If you notice any of the symptoms mentioned above, you should consult a doctor or a physiotherapist and start working on your abdominal muscles soon. Not attending to your diastasis recti can lead to multiple issues including backaches, knee aches, and urinary incontinence.

Diastasis recti is a common condition among pregnant and postpartum women. It is not a condition that you can avoid completely nor is it permanent damage to the body. With proper guidance, time, and effort you can heal your diastasis recti completely.


1. Is Diastasis Recti Caused Only By Pregnancy?

No, diastasis recti can happen in men and even babies. It happens when there is too much pressure from the inside behind the abdominal walls.

2. Can Diastasis Recti Go Away?

With proper techniques and exercise, one can slowly close the gap in the abdominal wall. Over time, they can strengthen the abdominal muscles and heal their diastasis recti completely.

Read Also: Pelvic Pain During Pregnancy – Causes, and Symptoms

Sindhuja Prabhu,M.Sc (Psychology),PGDBM

Sindhuja, a mother of two, is an obsessive mom with a keen interest in psychology, especially child psychology. Her quest for knowledge and way with words led her to become a passionate content writer. She transformed her love for writing into a full-fledged career which incidentally also turned up being the perfect stress buster for the last 5 years.Read more.

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