The Rectus Abdominis is your “six pack”. It’s the big front muscle of your abdomen. When you are pregnant, as your baby (or babies!) grow, your uterus gets bigger and eventually pushes out against the rectus abdominis muscle. Sometimes, that pressure is so strong, the uterus is so large and/or the abdominals are not strong enough to stabilize against the growth, so the muscle actually separates in the middle (straight up the front of your abdomen).
This separation of the rectus abdominis is called Diastasis Rectus (DR).
Diastasis Rectus typically occurs during the 2nd and 3rd trimester and can persist well after your children are born. It doesn’t always cause pain in the middle of your abdomen, so you should be aware of the other ways it can cause problems: weakness in the core/abdominal area, weakness holding good posture, difficulty holding your children, pelvic floor muscle dysfunction or incontinence, low back pain, pelvic pain, and pain with intercourse.
Many times you can test to see if you have DR by feeling up and down the middle of your abdomen to feel for a separation or space in between the two sides of your rectus abdominis muscle.
Now, what to do about it?
Please see the videos, below, for transverse abdominis strengthening and pelvic floor strengthening. Even if you’re pregnant without any symptoms now, the sooner you start these exercises, the less likely you will be to have DR symptoms. If you already have symptoms and think you have DR, start these exercises now to stabilize your abdomen and start feeling better.
If you have further questions or concerns, please email Dr. Brown Budde at Kari@RefinedRun.com to set up a consultation.