Diastasis is common in pregnancy and often occurs after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Caused by your growing uterus, diastasis is the separation of the two halves of the rectus muscle in the middle of your belly.
If you lie on your back with your knees bent, lift your head all the way up, and feel a midline ridge above your bellybutton, then you have a diastasis. It is more common if you have a short torso or a big baby.
It is important to evaluate for persistent diastasis after the pregnancy so that your exercises are appropriate. Do not do normal abdominal crunches if you have a diastasis since it can make the separation more pronounced. Talk to your health care provider to find out when you can start doing these abdominal crunches.
If you have a separation that is more than 2 fingerbreadths wide, do these special towel/scarf exercises to bring your muscles together:
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and your heels in line with your buttocks.
- Wrap a towel or strong scarf around your abdomen and cross it over your abdomen while holding each end with your hands so that the towel/scarf is tight around you. Lift your head and neck (as well as shoulders if you can) up and off the floor. Take a deep breath and then exhale.
- Tighten your abdominal muscles as you lift your pelvis up. As you are doing that, tighten then the towel/scarf to pull the abdominal muscles together. This will push them to their correct position.
- Do two sets of 10 every day. Increase to set of 30 when you can.
- Continue doing this exercise until your separation becomes less than 2 fingerbreadth wide. It can take several months.