Diastasis Recti ExercisesPost-partum women often express surprise that for some time after giving birth, they still look a little, well, pregnant. It can be a little disappointing or annoying, but it’s a fact of life: after giving birth it just takes a little time to start feeling–and looking–like your old self again. But if you are 4, 6, or even 12 months postpartum, and you still have a bit of a baby bump, it’s possible that you have diastasis recti. To be clear, this won’t look like a little residual weight or extra skin (hey, your body worked hard for nine whole months, wonder-woman!) instead, it can resemble a round, distended pouch or even the early stages of pregnancy. Why? Well, diastasis recti is just a fancy way of saying that your rectus abdominal muscles–your “six pack” has separated at the middle, along your linea alba.

It might sound a little gnarly, but in fact it is very common, rarely painful and wholly cosmetic. And the best part? If you’re anxious to bid adieu to your mummy tummy once and for all, there are a lot of diastasis recti exercises that you can do to repair your separation and get you looking like your old self again. We know the entire postpartum experience can be a whirlwind of pure bliss and crazy stress, so don’t let this minor matter freak you out. Try learning a little deep breathing to center yourself, and then read on, we’ve got you covered.

What Diastasis Recti Isn’t 

If you Google diastasis recti, you may be in for a little bit of a shock. There is a ton of conflicting information out there, a lot of it ambiguous or downright false. Talk about overwhelming! Let’s just take a second to separate fact from fiction.

What Diastasis Recti Is 

The fascia is the connective tissue that holds the abdominal muscles together at the center line, or linea alba. Diastasis recti in pregnant women is caused when the fascia thins and weakens, due to the growing uterus pressing on the abdominal wall. This is where the “pouch” or “mummy tummy” comes from–you’re actually seeing your uterus close to your skin. Cool, right?

Or, not so cool if you’re hoping to alleviate it. Diastasis recti should never be painful, and if you are experiencing abdominal pain, that’s a reason to phone your doctor right away. However, if diastasis recti doesn’t go away on its own, it can make it difficult to lift objects–say, for instance, an adorable baby–and cause some back pain. That’s why learning to do diastasis recti exercises can be so helpful. In the meantime, it never hurts to learn a little about improving your posture.

How Do I Know If I Have It?

Before we get to the exercises, let’s just talk about identifying the separation. It’s super simple:

A quick note: If this self-test is painful, if you feel a hard, round lump at your midline, or you’re just uneasy, speak to your doctor right away.

Now What?

Okay, so once you know that you have diastasis recti, let’s talk about fixing it. As we mentioned before, crunches and sit-ups actually worsen the separation. Instead, you want to use gentle core strengthening exercises paired with the diastasis recti exercises below:

There you have it! A gentle diastasis recti exercise regimen for “minding the gap”. It’s important to go slow and not get discouraged. Typically you will see results in about 6 weeks, but it can take a few additional weeks or even months before you’re done. Easing in to some post-partum yoga techniques will ultimately help strengthen those muscles even further, just remember to stay away from poses that stretch the rectus abdominus too much, like up dog and backbends. If you’re experiencing any residual back pain, try learning about the preventative measures you can take every day to outsmart it.

Motherhood is stressful enough without worrying about “mummy tummy”! Soon, if you stick to those diastasis recti exercises, you won’t have to!

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