I am now 36 weeks pregnant. Going on month 9 of pregnancy with my first child and it has definitely been an experience thus far. I have learned so much about pregnancy through reading and researching, doctors and midwives, but I have found most of the information I find are through other women’s experiences. I am very lucky to know so many pregnant women and already mothers in my family, friends, and through my co-workers here at OSR.
Working in the rehab department here at OSR we get many pregnant and post pregnant patients. There are many precautions that need to be taken when working with these patients because their bodies are and have been undergoing so many changes developing and delivering a baby. Such precautions are keeping these patients from performing exercises on their back after week 20 of pregnancy. Another precaution that we take here in our office in Kailua is avoiding all exercises that can potentially lead to diastasis recti. I have heard this condition briefly before, however, I thought it was odd that throughout my pregnancy neither my midwife nor my OBGYN has mentioned anything about it.
Diastasis Recti is the separation of the frontal abdominals called the rectus abdominis.
With a pregnant woman’s growing baby belly it is understandable that the abdominals spread apart as the baby gets bigger. Because the abdominals are spread apart during pregnancy, there should be precaution taken while exercising and performing certain movements that engage those muscles because they are not their strongest being apart. After pregnancy when the abdominals make their way back together there could be a separation between the right and left rectus abdominis. When this happens, you will be diagnosed with diastasis recti. This separation of the ab muscles causes the core to not be as strong as it could be and also lead to low back pain.
There is no way to know if a specific action caused your diastasis recti, as there are a lot of ways that the muscles can become separated. Whether it be from having multiple children or doing something to cause it during pregnancy, etc., I believe it is in everyone’s best interest to take precautions to avoid it. Again, I thought it was odd that neither my midwife nor OBGYN or even my “what to expect when expecting” app warned me about diastasis recti. OSR massage therapist, Mika, states that she was diagnosed with diastasis recti after having her third child in December. It is interesting to me that even then, she wasn’t informed of the condition until after she gave birth, especially when there are things that she should have known to avoid when she was pregnant.
When pregnant, women should stay away from exercises that engage the rectus abdominis muscles. Some examples are sit ups, crunches, planks, and full pushups. Even such a movement as sitting straight up from a lying position such as waking up in the morning should be avoided. Instead, rolling to the side and then sitting up is both better for you and it’s generally easier as well.
After pregnancy your practitioner can check you to see if you have diastasis recti, or you can simply perform a simple test on yourself. While lying down flat on your back and placing fingers horizontally above your belly button, lift head neck and shoulders off the ground. If there is a gap of one and half fingers or more, you most likely have diastasis recti. If this is the case, don’t worry, here at Oahu Spine & Rehab we can help you come up with a treatment plan that can aid in your full recovery.
Physical therapy and rehab exercises can be done to lessen this separation and strengthen the core. By utilizing our treatment plans here at our integrated health center in Kailua, your diastasis recti can be easily cured. Our massage therapists can offer Kinesio taping techniques that can help bring the muscles together as well. Being able to have children is a blessing, but while you are taking care of your family, don’t forget you need to take care of yourselves. If you think that your pregnancy may have resulted in diastasis recti, give us a call today to come in for a complimentary consultation at 488-5555.