Diastasis Recti + Pregnancy

Hey friends! Hope you’re having a lovely week! I celebrated my birthday yesterday with a full day of jammies, Torchy’s Tacos, the prettiest bouquet of ivory flowers from my Loverbuns, an evening of shoe shopping, and a Chilis Molten Lava cake to-go (because my nursing body was basically exploding to see baby Avery). THANKS for all the sweet birthday wishes yesterday over on Instagram. I read through every message and it was the sweetest cherry on top!

Alright, lets talk about the ‘mummy tummy’… the ‘gap’… or in other words Diastasis Recti. I receive tons of messages about how to prevent and heal Diastasis Recti (DR). In this post, I’ll share my experience with what I did during my 3rd pregnancy to protect my DR from worsening and what I’m currently doing now that I’m 4 weeks post-partum. **Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor! Married to a hot one, but I’m no doctor!**

With my twin pregnancy I gained a healthy 45lbs. A month into post-partum I noticed a bulge protruding around my belly button. When I flexed and lifted myself up off the floor, I felt a deep gap in the middle of my abdomen. HOLY CRAP! I remember feeling worried because I didn’t experience that after my previous pregnancy. It was a 4 finger-width gap. A separation wider than 2-2.5 fingerwidths (or 2.5cm) is considered DR and problematic.

Here’s how you can test for Diastasis Recti!

  1. Lie on your back, knees bent, feet flat on the floor.
  2. Place one hand behind your neck, and your other hand on your belly, placing your fingertips right above your belly button and parallel with your hips.
  3. Flex and tighten your abdomen by rolling up into a “crunch”.
  4. Gently push your fingertips down into the center to feel the separation between the left and right abdominal muscles. Ask your doctor to check for separation if you’re unsure.

If you DO have Diastasis Recti, you’ll need to heal the weaker transverse abs before you can do some traditional core exercises. Doing crunches, sit-ups, planks, bicycles, push-ups, roll ups, and many yoga stretches that lengthen and stretch your abdominals will WORSEN the gap! How ironic, right?! So since I had DR after my twin pregnancy, I avoided all of those exercises throughout my last pregnancy, and will continue avoiding them for the next 6-9 months that it takes to heal. Your growing uterus has stretched and thinned out the connective tissue running down the center of your abs. DR is when the abs have pulled away from that connective tissue. If you do a “crunch”, the already separated muscle will be forced to pull away even more. Doing too much too soon can lead to your tummy NOT flattening properly, possible intestinal hernias, back pain, and a weak core. Not fun!

My two favorite post-partum exercises to help heal Diastasis Recti by strengthening the transverse abdominis is the Pelvic Tilt with Heel Slide + Pull Belly To Spine. After my twin pregnancy, I worked on these 2 exercises religiously for 2 months while avoiding targeted abdominal exercises.

Pull Belly To Spine– Sit or stand up tall with your chest up and shoulders pulled back. Take a deep breath in and then exhale completely. Then pull your belly button in towards your spine while maintaining great posture. Keep your abs engaged tightly while you continue breathing. I typically hold for 60 seconds or until I feel like I’m getting too tired and can’t maintain good form. Break, then do it again. I’ll do these while I’m driving or blow-drying my hair.

Pelvic Tilt with a Heel Slide-Lie on your back, knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Draw belly in towards your spine. Slowly slide (push) one heel away to fully extend your leg on the floor while maintaining your belly pulled in towards the spine. Relax abs, inhale, then engage abs again and slowly slide heel back to starting position. Alternate between both legs a few times.

These two exercises helped close my 4-finger-width  gap to just under 2 after my twin pregnancy. Doing them consistently every day is where the magic happens!  I would LOVE to hear about your experience and progress! Whether you’re just starting your recovery or have had success with closing your gap I want to know what’s worked for you!

{Left photo-36 weeks pregnant with twins. Right photo- 2.5 years later-6 weeks pregnant with Avery}

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16 Comments

  1. Chantea
    April 19, 2017 / 1:27 pm

    Love it! Please cont to share 😍

    • Janene
      April 21, 2017 / 4:35 pm

      Awww, thanks girl!! That means so much! xo

  2. Victoria
    April 20, 2017 / 10:00 am

    I am pregnant and due any day now. I am wondering how long I should wait to start healing my DR? Can I start soon after delivery or should I wait until 6 weeks postpartum? Thanks, I enjoy reading your cute blog!

    • Janene
      April 21, 2017 / 4:35 pm

      Thanks Victoria! I’m super thrilled to hear you’re enjoying the blog! The good news about healing DR is that you can start those immediately. This will help your posture which is invaluable when it comes to holding a feeding a newborn. I constantly find myself hunched over and as soon as I remember my exercises, it all shifts and i tighten up my core to maintain good posture. Congrats on the upcoming arrival, what an exciting time that is!!! Enjoy those snuggles.

  3. Andriana
    April 21, 2017 / 9:09 am

    Hi! I discovered you on instagram and am enjoying your blog so much!! You are such an inspiration! Especially for this soon to be first time Mama!!! I am currently 28 weeks pregnant! Obviously I don’t know if DR will be a problem for me, but I was curious if there are certain exercises I need to avoid during pregnancy that might be causing DR to procede or get worse? Thanks so much! Much love to you and your sweet babies!

    • Janene
      April 21, 2017 / 4:29 pm

      Hey Andriana! You are seriously the cutest and so sweet! Thank you!! SO, i avoided planking, toe pushups, sit ups, crunches etc, burpees. Basically any exercises that has you in the quadruped position since that pushes your uterus into the weak connective tissue that runs down the center of your abs. If you ever notice that your belly ‘domes’ while exercising then i’d stop! Hope that helps!! 🙂

  4. Lynnsi Friedman
    April 21, 2017 / 10:02 am

    I’m 18.5 months PP and still have a baby bump from DR. Traumatic cesarean birth and a baby who still doesn’t sleep well make me much to tired/lazy to do the exercises I need. Help!

    • Janene
      April 21, 2017 / 4:16 pm

      Hey Lynnsi!
      I’m so sorry that your little one is still struggling with sleep! Thats not easy at all. When my twins were newborns, I began going to group fitness classes at the gym. even on the days where they were up most of the night. I was SO tired and exhausted from breastfeeding but I discovered that the endorphins from exercising for 1 hour helped me cope better with the broken sleep. That train of thought helped motivate me when i was DEAD tired and not up for loading all of the kids into the car to go exercise at the gym. It’s hard, mama! Also, getting an accountability partner or a friend that wants to get healthy along with you is my favorite way to stay committed. But as far as closing you DR gap, that can be worked on even by sitting in the car or watching tv (which is totally what i do! ha!) Let me know how that goes!! xo

  5. Megan
    April 22, 2017 / 12:03 am

    Hi Jane! Found you on IG, thanks for taking the time to share tour experience with DR. Now at 35 weeks, I think I may have it (and have had it for a while), but I’m going to double check with my OB next week. My question for you is, can I start doing these excersizes now? I’m going to stop my planks and deep backbends immediately (i practice a LOT of yoga). And secondly, how many times per day do you do a few 60 second holds? Is once per day enough?

    Thanks again!
    @m3ganSeee

    • Janene
      April 29, 2017 / 11:37 am

      First off, you’re such a rockstar for being able to do deep backbends while 35 weeks pregnant!!! And to answer your question, yes! Yes you can do these exercises to strengthen your TA during pregnancy. I sure did. Hopefully your OB will give you a bit more tailored advice regarding your body. I try to do it a few times per day. To be honest, some days I forget to do them all-together! The more, the better but consistency is the key. Best wishes for the arrival of your sweet baby!!!

  6. Melody
    April 24, 2017 / 12:27 pm

    Hi Janene!
    I saw you on IG a while back and followed you because of how classy you are and how you love the Savior and aren’t afraid to share it 🙂 I thought that was cool! Anyway I just read this post and turns out I have some DR. I felt the gap a few months ago and thought it must just be some normal post pregnancy thing lol I am 13 months pp now and have been exercising since about 8 weeks pp (because of a c-section) religiously but although the baby fat is gone (and I weigh less now than I did before) my belly still isn’t as flat as it was. Apparently due to DR which I just now learned lol And I have probably made it worse from doing crunches, flutter kicks etc.
    Do you have any other excercises that you do to strengthen your DR other than the things mentioned above? If you do you should make a post about it because there’s not a ton on DR and I would love to read it!

    • Janene
      April 29, 2017 / 11:45 am

      Melody… You are SO sweet! Thanks for your kind encouragement!! 🙂 And you’re certainly right, crunches and flutter kicks are straining the weak connective tissue if you do have weak transverse abs and DR as a result. You can also do side planks and short range side extensions once you’ve worked on the exercises I previously mentioned for 3-4 weeks. Side planks and extensions use your body weight to work parts of your abs, i’d hold off until your DR has had some progress. Hope that helps!! Enjoy those snuggles from you cute 13 month babe!!! xo

  7. June 7, 2017 / 1:15 pm

    Great post! I learned about DR with my first pregnancy and found that prevention was the best medicine! I worked out my transverse abdominals (my obliques if that’s the right word) almost every day and NOT my lower abs at all. I still experienced a gap during my pregnancy but after birth it closed up, with a continuation of TA exercises. In fact I never ended up working out my lower abs very much after that. The oblique excercises have remained enough! And now that I’m pregnant again I’m repeating the same practice in hopes of another speedy recovery!

    • Janene
      June 11, 2017 / 4:59 pm

      Wow, Jennifer! It seems as thought you have done everything right! Best wishes for a speedy healing process 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  8. Lizzie
    July 2, 2017 / 8:51 pm

    I just found your Instagram and blog. I need help. I am 3 months pp and I look 6 or 7 months pregnant still. It is really killing my self esteem. I’m pretty skinny all over otherwise it is just my tummy and I’m scared it will never go back and I’ll be constantly asked “how far a long are you?” for the rest of my life! I dont know how to fix this. Help!

    • Janene
      July 3, 2017 / 8:17 pm

      Congratulations on your new baby! I’m so sorry that you’re feeling so down about your body. This is such a transitional time as you’re healing not only physically but emotionally as well. I’m 100% positive that exercising will help both your mind and body fully recover. Definitely talk to your doctor if you’re worried about your uterus not being fully shrunk back down in your pelvis. Also, eating more good foods will help you physically and emotionally! Being consistent about a healthy diet and exercise will help those things you’re worried about. Again, I’m so sorry! You’re definitely no alone in that struggle. Hang in there mama and enjoy that sweet baby

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