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New Baby, New Belly: What is a Diastasis Recti?

Diastasis rectus abodminis (DRA) is a normal occurance during pregnancy. As your baby grows, the abdominal wall will separate to make room for you child, separating your rectus abdominal musculature. After your child is born, the muscles will slowly start to come back together and normally resolve on their own, within 3 months postpartum. This sometimes becomes pathological if the symptoms persist, activities become more difficult, or you are having increased discomfort.

Symptoms

How is this diagnosed?

Your physical therapist will measure the amount of separation between the rectus abdominis musculature, measuring above, at, and below the umbilicus (bellybutton). A seperation of greater than 2.5 cm is considered a significant width.

Your physical therapist will have you lift your head up and measure the distance created. In addition, they will measure if there is doming and measure the intraabdominal pressure before and during the head lift. Your physical therapist will also teach you how to perform this test and monitor these symptoms on your own to prevent doming during exercises.

Does a DRA affect me?

If the intraabdominal pressure is unable to be controlled, then it could lead to difficulties in functional activities. Your physical therapist will look at how your DRA may affect your posture, breathing, flexibility, muscle strength, and movement patterns during activities.

Treatment

Each person's program is unique to them and is focused on getting the individual back to activities that they love. Training will involve activation of the transverse abdominis muscles and the ability to control your core musculature during activities. Your PT will also go over activities such as lifting and carrying your baby while maintaining good core control. Sometimes bracing ortaping may benefit the patient, especially in the early phases.

 

If you are experiencing a DRA, are pregnant, have recently had a baby, or even if baby is several years old, give us a call if you are in the Falls Church or Arlington area for a check up.

Author
Alana Hamilton Alana Hamilton is a physical therapist at Advantage Physical Therapy in Falls Church, Virginia. She is a proud Hokie from Virginia Tech with a major in Biology and a minor in psychology and sociology. Following graduation, she immediately got her doctorate in Physical Therapy from Radford University. She is an avid fan of Pilates, running, and hiking. On the weekends, she can be found hanging out with her family and baby as well as doing Spartan races with her old physical therapy classmates and friends. She is a big believer that during rehabilitation, "Motion is the Lotion" and that staying active is key to remaining healthy.

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