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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.

When expecting a baby, there is a lot you can test-run in advance: Take that stroller around the block. Go for a spin with the car seat secured in place. Learn how to use the baby carrier with help from a doll. But breastfeeding? It's not exactly possible to practice before baby's arrival.

The absence of a trial makes it all the more important to prepare in other ways for breastfeeding success—and it can be as simple as adding a few of our lactation aiding favorites to your registry.

MilkBliss chocolate chip soft baked lactation cookies

MilkBliss lactation cookies

Studies have shown the top reason women stop breastfeeding within the first year is because they are concerned about their milk supply being enough to nourish baby. Consider MilkBliss Lactation Cookies to be your secret weapon. Not only are they wholesome and delicious, but they were formulated specifically for breastfeeding moms based on the science of galactagogues—also known as milk boosters. They also come in peanut butter and wild blueberry flavors.

$23

Evereden multi-purpose healing balm

Evereden multipurpose healing balm

Also up there on the list of reasons women stop breastfeeding: the toll the early days can take on nipples. Made from just five ingredients, this all natural healing balm is ideal for soothing chafed nipples, making for a much more comfortable experience for mama as her body adjusts to the needs of a breastfeeding baby.

$20

Lansinoh milk storage bags

Lansinoh milk storage bags

For a breastfeeding mama, there are few things more precious and valuable than the milk she worked so hard to pump—and it's the stuff of nightmares to imagine it spilling out in the fridge. With these double-sealed milk storage bags, you can be assured your breastmilk is safe and sound until baby needs it.

$12.50

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Nursing a baby is a 24/7 job, which calls for some wardrobe modifications. Because Belly Bandit specializes in making things more comfortable for the postpartum mama, they've truly thought of every detail—from the breathable fabric to the clips that can be easily opened with one hand.

$47

boob-ease soothing therapy pillows

Boob Ease soothing therapy pillows

For nursing moms, duct can quickly become a four-letter word when you suspect it's getting clogged. By keeping these soothing breast pillows in your breastfeeding arsenal, you can immediately go on the defense against plugged milk ducts by heating the pads in the microwave or cooling them in the freezer.

$25

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

A unfortunate reality of nursing is that it can really seem to limit the wardrobe options when you have to think about providing easy, discrete access. But by adding functional basics to your closet, you can feel confident and prepared for breastfeeding on the go.

$59

Bebe au Lait premium cotton nursing cover

Bebe au Lait cotton nursing cover

Nursing in public isn't every mama's cup of tea. But babies can't always wait until you've found a private place to get down to business if that's your preference. That's where a nursing cover comes in handy. This one is made from premium cotton and features a patented neckline that allows for airflow and eye contact even while you're covered.

$36

Lactation Lab basic breastmilk testing kit

Lactation Lab breastmilk testing kit

Curious to learn more about the liquid gold you're making, mama? The testing kit from Lactation Labs analyzes your breast milk for basic nutritional content like calories and protein, as well as vitamins, fatty acids and environmental toxins to help boost your breastfeeding confidence.

$99

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One of our main goals as mothers is to encourage our children to learn, grow and play. They start out as our tiny, adorable babies who need us for everything, and somehow, before you know it, they grow into toddlers with ideas and opinions and desires of their own.

You may be hearing a lot more of "I do it!" or maybe they're pushing your hand away as a signal to let you know, I don't need your help, Mama. That's okay. They're just telling you they're ready for more independence. They want to be in charge of their bodies, and any little bit of control their lives and abilities allow.

So, instead of challenging your toddler's desire for autonomy, we found five of our favorite products to help encourage independence—and eliminate frustration in the process.

EKOBO Bamboo 4-piece kid set

EKOBO bamboo 4-piece kid set

This colorful set includes a plate, cup, bowl and spoon and is just right for your child's meal experience. Keep them in an easy-to-reach cabinet so they'll feel encouraged (and excited!) to get their own place setting each time they eat.

$25

Puj PhillUp hangable kids cups

Puj PhillUp hangable kids cups

Before you know it, your little one will be asking (okay, maybe demanding) to fill their own water cups. This amazing 4-pack of cups attaches directly to the fridge (or any glass, metal, tile or fiberglass surface) making it easier for your child to grab a cup themselves. Just be sure a water pitcher or dispenser is nearby, and—boom!—one task off your plate.

$29

Wise Elk puzzle tower blocks

Wise Elk puzzle tower blocks

These beautiful blocks, made from sustainably-sourced wood and water-based, non-toxic, lead-free paint, will keep your little one focused on their creation while they're also busy working on their fine-motor skills. The puzzle design will encourage patience as your kiddo creates their own building, fitting one block in after the next.

$18

Lorena Canals basket

Lorena Canals Basket

This *gorgeous* braided cotton basket is the perfect, accessible home for their blocks (and whatever else you want to hide away!) so your kiddo can grab them (and clean them up) whenever their heart desires.

$29

BABYBJÖRN step stool

BABYBJ\u00d6RN Step Stool

Your kiddo might be ready to take on the world, but they might need an extra boost to do so—cue, a step stool! An easy-to-move lightweight stool is the must-have confidence-boosting tool you need in your home so your growing tot can reach, well... the world.

$20

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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.


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