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Diastasis Recti Part 2: How to Diagnose and Treat

March 19, 2018

**HAVE YOU READ PART 1? IF, NOT CLICK HERE**

Now that I, myself, am almost 3 months postpartum, I thought it was about time that I buckled down and wrote out this post so that I can help women who are in the same boat as I.

Assuming that you read Part 1 of this post, you will have learned that Diastasis Recti is just another term for ab separation. It is something that is most commonly associated with pregnant women but can also happen to women without children and even men! Why does this happen? There are numerous ways “D.R.” can occur but in short, it boils down to improper body mechanics, postural disturbances, and strain on the core.

So with knowing that, how do we determine if we have indeed experienced this abdominal separation? Well, if you check out the video below, I will walk you through and show you exactly how you can self-diagnose at home and start your recovery process.

How To Test For Diastasis Recti
  1. Lie flat on your back with your knees bent.
  2. Put your fingers right above your belly button and press down gently.
  3. Then lift up your head about an inch while keeping your shoulders on the ground.
  4. If you have diastasis recti, you will feel a gap between the muscles that is wider than an inch.

If you have discovered that you have diastasis recti (gap that is more than 2 fingers width), all hope IS NOT lost. In fact, here are a few things you can do right now to get you back on the track to recovery.

  • Post Partum Girdles. After the birth of my baby girl and while the doctor was stitching me up, I asked her how long I should wait before putting on the postpartum recovery girdle I had purchased prior. She had me wait a couple of days but once I got the green light, I strapped that baby on. I wasn’t really sure if it would do anything but boy did it make a difference. I felt the belt squeeze my midsection together like a bandaid. As opposed to a corset, which is meant to help shape and shrink your midsection, this girdle is for much more, such as:
    • Aid in postpartum recovery and shrinking uterus back to normal size and if you have had a c-section, they are great for supporting the incision area
    • They aid in supporting your lower back and overall posture
    • Provide comfort for your core, which will feel like a big bowl of jello after your babe has arrived.
    • Helps close the gap in your core by holding the two sides of your abdominal wall together while you perform everyday tasks
  • Choose Your Exercises Carefully. During and after your pregnancy, you want to stay conscious of what exercises should be avoided.  This is especially important after your babe has arrived, since it can be very easy to rush back into improper exercises in the hopes of ridding that postpartum belly. I get it, I really do. Compared to my pre-baby body, my midsection is flabby and my once toned abs are hard to find. It makes sense that this is an area we want to fix right away. However, you want to tread lightly, choose pregnancy & postpartum safe exercises (which can be found here) and be sure to AVOID the following:
    • Crunches
    • Sit Ups
    • Planks
    • Pushups (in plank position)
    • Any rotational exercise
    • Burpees (in plank position)
    • Hollow Holds
  • Learn how to engage your core properly. When obtaining my certificate in pre/postnatal fitness, one of the best things I ever learned were 2 unique cues to help my clients properly engage their core when working out and even performing everyday tasks.
    1. Breath out of your nose like you are trying to blow out a birthday candle and as you exhale, imagine drawing in your hip bones as if trying to get them to kiss one another.
    2. Perform a kegel by envisioning someone walks in on you while you are peeing and you try to stop mid-stream.
  • Are you breathing correctly? Surprisingly, one of the main culprits behind diastasis recti is improper breathing. Don’t believe me? Well try taking a little test. Stand in front of a mirror, take in a deep breath and watch what area moves on you first. If you saw your chest and shoulders raise first and then be followed up with your belly, you unfortunately are one of the many who aren’t breathing correctly. When breathing, we want our bellies to move first so that we can properly engage your diaphragm. Now you may be asking yourself why this is important when in the end, what really matters is that your body receives its oxygen. Well the answer is simple: if we don’t know how to engage our diaphragm, we don’t know how to engage our core. Want to practice breathing correctly? Try this:Lay on your back, knees bent with one hand on your belly and the other on your chest.
    • Take in a deep breath and with that inhale, fill up your belly up with that breath, pressing your hand towards the sky. You do not want your hand on the chest to raise.
    • With your exhale, slowly let your belly lower itself as you squeeze your core as though wrapping it tight like a corset around your waist
    • Practice this multiple times a day
  • Practice a little Self Love Above all else, I want you to stop what you are doing right now and give your body a little love. I know you might not be 100% comfortable in this new postpartum body but don’t forget the amazing feat your body just performed. Just like you, I, too, am a little self conscious about how I currently look. Do I miss my pre-baby body? Yes, I am human after all. However, I know that with time and a little practice, I will be one day back in a new body that I am confident in. And more importantly, I know that this new body is the same one that brought in my beautiful little girl and well….how could I not love it for that?

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