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Diastasis Recti is a term many women are no where near familiar with pre-pregnancy, yet many experience it during and post-pregnancy. Some that experience it don't even know they have it, and certainly don't know how to go about repairing their muscles.

By definition, and according to author and biomechanist Katy Bowman, Diastasis Recti (DR) is the unnatural distance of the right and/or left halves of the rectus abdominis from the midline. The emphasis on "unnatural" is because there is a normal distance between these muscles -- at least normal to you -- that varies based on the natural width of your linea alba (a fibrous structure that runs down the middle of the body and connects your ribcage to your bones).

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We know, it sounds complicated, right? But there's a decent chance it may happen to you (or maybe that it already did!) so you better you understand the how's and why's. Below, Katy gives us a sneak peak into understanding DR.

Here's why it occurs:

Excessive (too much or too frequent) forces are placed on the linea alba which could damage this tissue. This includes:

  • A new force placed on the linea alba which could damage the tissue (a growing belly during pregnancy or even weight gain)
  • Too much tension in the ab muscles
  • Certain positions
  • A new way of moving (some completely unrelated to exercise)

Here's how it can happen:

  • A growing belly (i.e. pregnancy or weight gain in the abdomen)
  • Too much tension in the oblique muscles
  • Certain positions (i.e. standing with your hips forward and your chest lifted)
  • Rib thrusting because your shoulders are super-tight
  • More complex tension created by sucking in your stomach, breathing patters, etc.

How you can help heal and change the forces on the linea alba:

  • Change the way you stand
  • Exercise to reduce tension in the waist and strengthen other core muscles
  • Move your body more, in general, throughout the day
  • Move your body more dynamically throughout the day (i.e. mix up your movements)

Don't have Diastasis Recti yet but want to prevent it? We get it. Here's Katy's top 3 ways to prevent DR:

  1. Keep your torso strong and supple (remember that STRONG and TIGHT don’t mean the same thing!).
  2. Don’t always opt for “abdominal” exercises, but challenge your core muscles in “whole-body” ways (like using them to assist you across the monkey bars).
  3. Keep your upper body strong and supple so you don’t chronically thrust your ribcage (which can strain the linea alba that attaches to it) to compensate for tight muscles in the chest, arms, and shoulders.

Read more about Diastasis Recti in Katy's new book Diastasis Recti - The Whole-Body Solution to Abdominal Weakness and Separation.

Image source.

When I was expecting my first child, I wanted to know everything that could possibly be in store for his first year.

I quizzed my own mom and the friends who ventured into motherhood before I did. I absorbed parenting books and articles like a sponge. I signed up for classes on childbirth, breastfeeding and even baby-led weaning. My philosophy? The more I knew, the better.

Yet, despite my best efforts, I didn't know it all. Not by a long shot. Instead, my firstborn, my husband and I had to figure it out together—day by day, challenge by challenge, triumph by triumph.

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The funny thing is that although I wanted to know it all, the surprises—those moments that were unique to us—were what made that first year so beautiful.

Of course, my research provided a helpful outline as I graduated from never having changed a diaper to conquering the newborn haze, my return to work, the milestones and the challenges. But while I did need much of that tactical knowledge, I also learned the value of following my baby's lead and trusting my gut.

I realized the importance of advice from fellow mamas, too. I vividly remember a conversation with a friend who had her first child shortly before I welcomed mine. My friend, who had already returned to work after maternity leave, encouraged me to be patient when introducing a bottle and to help my son get comfortable with taking that bottle from someone else.

Yes, from a logistical standpoint, that's great advice for any working mama. But I also took an incredibly important point from this conversation: This was less about the act of bottle-feeding itself, and more about what it represented for my peace of mind when I was away from my son.

This fellow mama encouraged me to honor my emotions and give myself permission to do what was best for my family—and that really set the tone for my whole approach to parenting. Because honestly, that was just the first of many big transitions during that first year, and each of them came with their own set of mixed emotions.

I felt proud and also strangely nostalgic as my baby seamlessly graduated to a sippy bottle.

I felt my baby's teething pain along with him and also felt confident that we could get through it with the right tools.

I felt relieved as my baby learned to self-soothe by finding his own pacifier and also sad to realize how quickly he was becoming his own person.



As I look back on everything now, some four years and two more kids later, I can't remember the exact day my son crawled, the project I tackled on my first day back at work, or even what his first word was. (It's written somewhere in a baby book!)

But I do remember how I felt with each milestone: the joy, the overwhelming love, the anxiety, the exhaustion and the sense of wonder. That truly was the greatest gift of the first year… and nothing could have prepared me for all those feelings.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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My husband and I always talked about starting a family a few years after we were married so we could truly enjoy the “newlywed” phase. But that was over before it started. I was pregnant on our wedding day. Surprise!

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