Diastasis Recti - Stomach Muscle separation after Pregnancy

What is Diastasis Recti?

Yup! its that word nobody can pronounce properly!

So what is ‘diastasis recti’ and why do my stomach muscles separate during pregnancy?

Diastasis recti is a separated of the stomach muscles during pregnancy which is natural as this allows the muscles and the connective tissues to stretch to accommodate your new baby.

After Pregnancy

It can, however, take several months for the muscles to come towards the midline again, but for some individuals, this separation remains and unfortunately can cause problems if left unaddressed.

The affects of stomach muscles separation (Diastasis Recti)

This increased separation can lead:

  • Weakened core muscles

  • Back pain

  • Postpartum belly

  • Possible herniation

What can I do?

When you are pregnant, an important hormone called Relaxin which allows your body to prepare and muscles to prepare for giving birth. It also allows your muscles and joints to soften and stretch. Relaxin is still in your system after birth, so you have to take it easy on your body and not rush and do too much exercise.

Fortunately, Diastasis Recti can be addressed and significantly improved by introducing some specific core strengthening exercises and avoiding certain abdominal work. (Yup! No crunches and planks in the beginning ladies!!)

No two births are the same and so many changes have occurred pre/during and after pregnancy .

It’s important to check if you think you may have Diastasis recti…….There is a way!!

How to Test?

Its recommended to wait 6-13 weeks before self testing.

After this you can do the following:

Step 1: Lay on your back, feet flat and knees bent.

Step 2: Relax all muscles and take the middle three fingers and place them towards the navel with your fingers pointing down.

Step 3: Now gently lift your head. See if your fingers sink into the centre of your abdominal. Repeat this step by checking the midline above and below the naval. If the gap is wider than 2 fingers, you may have a diastasis recti. (I would not panic at this stage as your body can still improve and the muscles do take time to move back into place.)

A gap of 4-5 fingers? Go and make an appointment with your GP.

Now What?

As mentioned earlier, please don’t panic as a lot can be done to help and improve Diastasis Recti.

Slowly and gently and mindfully is the way forward. That's why Pilates is an excellent way to gently support the muscles and core.

Here are some DO’s and DON’Ts


  • Address Posture

  • Learn to change position from lying on your back to standing correctly

  • Let your body heal and spend to with your baby

  • Focused breathing

  • Pelvic floor exercises

  • Gently core work

  • Kinesic tape (can assist)

  • Try Pilates


  • Avoid crunches, sit-ups, planks plymetricts (star jumps), running.

  • Increasing intra abdominal pressure this will place extra force through the already divided muscles.

  • Avoid abdominal ‘bulging’ or ‘doming’

If you feel you need a bit of support and guidance or tummy check, contact the clinic and book for consultation with Martine who would be happy to assist.

By Martine McDonnell-Bolton, Pilates Practitioner.

Martine is a Senior Pilates Practitioner with nearly 20 years of teaching experience. Originally in Australia she has worked in all aspects of Pilates. However, since becoming a mother herself in 2013, her experience and knowledge of working with mothers through all aspects of pre/during and post pregnancy deepened profoundly.