Diastasis Recti What is It? Part 1

Diastasis Recti What is It?

Marianne Ryan PT recently had the first part of a 4 part series published in Mommy Matters

This is the first in a series of articles about diastasis recti. You will learn, what is diastasis recti, how to test for it, why mainstream exercises programs do not work, and the best ways to deal with diastasis recti.

Diastasis Recti

Did you ever wonder why so many moms still look pregnant several months or even years after they deliver their baby? It’s likely these moms have diastasis recti. This happens when the two six pack muscles in the stomach separate.

During pregnancy, it is normal for these muscles in the abdomen to spread apart to make room for your growing baby. After childbirth, this separation usually reduces back to normal within a month or so. But, it doesn’t in about up to 60% of mothers.


Why does this happen?

It’s not that there’s a true cut or a tear separating these muscles. Hormones that are produced during pregnancy cause the connective tissue, Linea Alba, that lies in between the “six-pack” muscles, Rectus Abdominis, to become looser and more pliable, and will make the muscles spread apart. This is a normal and needs to happen during pregnancy to allow the belly to accommodate the growing baby inside a mother’s belly.

Before pregnancy, this connective tissue, called the Linea Alba, is normally taut and serves to anchor the 2 Rectus Abdominis muscle strips in place, allowing them to remain relatively parallel to each other, on either side of your belly button.

After childbirth, most women have this separation for a few weeks, but it does not resolve with as much as 40% of women 6 weeks after childbirth. If the Linea Alba is loose, the shape of the belly is changed and it will protrude outwards forming a dome in the middle of the tummy.

Yup, that is the dreaded “Mommy Tummy.” Not a pretty picture!

Picture of a mother who is one year postpartum with Diastasis RectiF

Picture of a mother who is one year postpartum with Diastasis Recti


Medical conditions related to diastasis recti:

Most people who have diastasis recti complain that they feel bloated and are frustrated when their belly budges after eating a meal. If you have this condition, the earlier you know about it, the better. Studies have shown that women who have a diastasis recti are more likely to develop lower back pain, incontinence, and pelvic organ prolapse; conditions you definitely want to stop in their tracks. There are definitely things you can do to promote healing and, at the very least, prevent this condition from getting worse. If you ignore it, however, you can unknowingly make the condition worse.

Medical conditions related to diastasis recti


Moms should beware:

Even if you don’t have diastasis recti now, you need to be aware of the condition and be watchful. Studies show that it can develop years after you give birth. So, even if you don’t develop it after childbirth, it can develop later on as a result of straining the belly.


In the next article, learn how to figure out if you have diastasis recti.

You can also get a free copy of the Baby Bod Guide by following this LINK

MARIANNE RYAN PT, OCS is a physical therapist and board-certified orthopedic clinical specialist. She is the owner and Clinical Director of MRPT Physical Therapy, and a spokesperson for the American Physical Therapy Association Media Corps. With more than 30 years' experience, she specializes in the treatment of the spine, pelvis and jaw, with particular emphasis on the treatment of prenatal and postpartum patients. She has taught physical therapy treatment and exercises for prenatal and postpartum women at the nurse midwifery program at Columbia University School of Nursing, and has also taught at the TMJ clinic at New York University Dental School. A much sought-after media guest, Marianne has appeared on dozens of national TV and radio shows, and has also been featured in Red BookFitness Magazine, USA Today, Shape Magazine and the Wall Street Journal. She was also featured in the film Drifting, a documentary about movement produced by the Tribeca Film Institute. Passionate about helping women to restore their stomachs after pregnancy and childbirth, Marianne is author of the book Baby Bod® - Turn Flab into Fab in 12 Weeks Flat (available on


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