I wanted to put some focus on diastasis recti this month, based solely on bringing awareness and education to all who read this post.
Diastasis recti is when the midline of the abdominals separate. There are a few reasons this can happen, and it does not just happen to women, but what I want to focus on today is diastasis recti during pregnancy.
As baby grows, the abdominals need to stretch quite a ways to accommodate that growth. Studies have shown that 99% of women have some form of diastasis recti by the end of their third trimester. The degree of this will vary for each person as well as each pregnancy. It is typical that multiple pregnancies can lead to greater diastasis with each consecutive pregnancy.
I cannot stress enough that diastasis is not something to be scared of! It is something that naturally occurs to the body during pregnancy. Each individual will experience it a bit differently and it can be different areas of the abdominals that separate. You could have greater separation at the top (open above navel), middle (open diastasis), or the lower abdominals (open below navel). See image below. Completely open diastasis would be a separation along the entire length of the linea alba.
What you can focus on, to help try and minimize the degree of diastasis recti, are your breathing techniques and movements patterns during pregnancy as well as early postpartum.
How you are breathing and moving can have an impact on the degree of separation as well as how well your linea alba may heal following delivery. The reason for this is due to where the pressure in your abdominal cavity (core canister) is going. Your "core canister" is made up of your diaphragm (on top), your pelvic floor (bottom), and everything around it (your low back and abdominals - deep muscles - aka: multifidi and transversus abdominus). All of these muscles work together to stabilize your spine. If there is weakness in one area of the canister, something else will have to do the work and it may lead to an imbalance in the pressure system.
This imbalance can cause pain and/or dysfunction of any area in that canister. For example, increased diastasis recti, low back pain, incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse. When we can put the focus on our breath and our breath during movement/activities, this helps even out the pressure system and allow those muscles to work together instead of apart from each other. This leads to an increase in spine support and strength through the abdominals as well as a decrease in low back pain, and potentially a decrease in prolapse and incontinence symptoms as well.
Stay tuned for another post on assessing diastasis and how to work on coordinating your breath with your movements!
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Girls Gone Strong. CPPC Certification Manual (2018). Pre and Postnatal Coaching Certification Manual.