5 Things You Didn’t Know About Diastasis Recti

And how to avoid the dreaded “mummy tummy.”

5 Things You Didn’t Know About Diastasis Recti

You had a beautiful perfect baby, and you’ve been cleared to work out 6 weeks ago. But you are experiencing lower back pain and having difficulty losing the poochy belly. This, mama, could be a sign that you’ve fallen victim of Diastasis Recti (DR).

Your rectus abdominis muscles, which run down the center of your belly, are colloquially known as the “six pack” and are essentially responsible for your Instagram-ready abs. To keep this part of your body fit and strong, you need to maintain an even stronger core by working your transverse abdominis, internal abdominal obliques, diaphragm and pelvic floor. A weak core puts pressure on your abs and forces your rectus abdominis to take over and compensate, which is when they start to separate. That’s what we call diastasis recti: the separation of your left and right belly muscles and the thinning of the tissue connecting them. It can cause back pain, constipation and urinary leaking.


Not to worry, though. You can (and should) bring those muscles back together. But to do that, you need to know what you’re up against and understand the condition. So here are 5 surprising facts about diastasis recti:

1. Diastasis Recti can affect everyone. We often talk about DR in the context of pregnancy and a woman’s postpartum body. That’s why many people believe that it affects mostly (if not only) women. But gender has little to do with the condition, and both men and women can see their abdominal muscles separate. Babies and children, too, can have diastasis recti. In fact, it’s common for babies to be born with a gap -- though it will naturally and gradually close as they grow.

2. Pregnancy doesn’t cause Diastasis Recti. Pregnancy creates and exacerbates patterns that put a lot of pressure on the midline that connects your right and left abdominal muscles (known as the linea alba). It is that pressure that is at the root of diastasis recti. For example, bad postures, like standing with your hips forward and chest lifted or sucking your belly in, can put pressure on your abs and trigger the condition, whether you are pregnant or not.

3. Being fit won’t necessarily prevent Diastasis Recti. Pregnant women and people who are overweight put more pressure on their abdominal muscles and are thus more at risk to develop a gaping hole. But that doesn’t mean that being fit protects you from the condition. Since diastasis recti stems from physical pressure, over stimulating your rectus abdominis muscles (with exercises like sit-ups and oblique twists), breathing inadequately and working out with bad alignment can stretch and weaken your muscles, potentially worsening the condition.

4. Even those who are at risk may not develop diastasis recti. Diastasis Recti occurs when the abdomen expands quickly. And yes, your belly muscles are more likely to separate if you are pregnant or undergo a C-section. But that doesn’t mean you’ll automatically get the dreaded “mummy tummy.” To lower your risks, avoid wearing your rectus abdominis muscles out -- make sure to work deeper muscles to strengthen your core.

5. You don’t need an expert to diagnose it. How do you measure and decide if you have diastasis recti? Lay flat on your back and place your middle three fingers horizontally along your tummy. As your fingers rest on your belly, lift your head off the floor to do a half sit-up. Feel for your left and right abdominal muscles and see if they come together. Measure in three different spots: above, in and below the belly button. If the two sides are separated by 2 or more fingers, you have diastasis recti.

If you suspect you have the condition, get checked by your doctor and seek help from professionals who’ve worked with postpartum patients (like midwives, personal trainers, chiropractors or physical therapists). They’ll help you sync your breathing to your diaphragm and pelvic floor, keep your alignment and posture in check, and strengthen your core -- all of which are essential to bringing those muscles back together.

In This Article

    The one thing your family needs to practice gratitude

    And a tradition you'll want to keep for years.

    Gracious Gobbler

    I think I can speak for well, basically everyone on planet earth when I say things have been a bit stressful lately. Juggling virtual school, work and the weight of worry about all the things, it's increasingly difficult to take even a moment to be grateful and positive these days. It's far easier to fall into a grump cycle, nagging my kids for all the things they didn't do (after being asked nine times), snapping at their bickering and never really acknowledging the good stuff.

    But the truth is, gratitude and appreciation is the kind of medicine we need now more than ever—and not just because the season is upon us. For one thing, practicing gratitude is a scientifically proven way to boost our happiness, health and relationships. More importantly, we need to ensure we're cultivating it in our children even when things are challenging. Especially when things are challenging.

    I'm ready to crank the thankfulness up a few dozen notches and reboot our family's gratitude game so we can usher out 2020 on a fresh note. So, I've called in some reinforcements.

    Enter: the Gracious Gobbler.

    Keep reading Show less

    14 toys that will keep your kids entertained inside *and* outside

    They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

    With fall in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in outside-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

    From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

    Wooden doll stroller

    Janod wooden doll stroller

    Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.


    Detective set

    Plan Toys detective set

    This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.


    Sand play set

    Plan Toys sand set

    Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.


    Water play set

    Plan Toys water play set

    Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.


    Mini golf set

    Plan Toys mini golf set

    Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.


    Vintage scooter balance bike

    Janod retro scooter balance bike

    Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.


    Wooden rocking pegasus

    plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

    Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.


    Croquet set

    Plan Toys croquet set

    The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.


    Wooden digital camera

    fathers factory wooden digital camera

    Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.


    Wooden bulldozer toy

    plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

    Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.


    Pull-along hippo

    janod toys pull along hippo toy

    There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.


    Baby forest fox ride-on

    janod toys baby fox ride on

    Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.


    Balance board

    Plan Toys balance board

    Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!


    Meadow ring toss game

    Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

    Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.


    We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


    100 unusual + surprising baby name ideas

    From Adelia to Ziggy.

    Our list of 100 baby names that should be on everyone's list this year includes more choices than in the past of names that are obscure and surprising. That's because there are so many more unusual baby names coming into widespread use and baby namers have become a lot more adventurous.

    Expectant parents do not need to be told to move beyond Jennifer and Jason. Their thinking about names has evolved to the point that the most useful thing we can do is offer a large menu of intriguing choices.

    Here are our picks for the 100 best surprising + unusual baby names now.

    Keep reading Show less
    Learn + Play