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How to prepare for and treat diastasis recti before and after birth?

By: Claire Mills, Physiotherapist and founder of Core LDN

First published: 7th July 2024

How to prepare for and treat diastasis recti before and after birth?

How physiotherapy and Pilates can help prevent or recover from diastasis recti:


Understanding Diastasis Recti


Diastasis Recti (DRAM) refers to the separation of the connective tissue (the linea alba) down the middle of your abdomen that holds the two sides of your rectus abdominal muscle together. This condition commonly occurs in 2 out of 3 women during pregnancy due to hormonal changes, rapid weight gain, and the increasing size of the baby and uterus.


Pilates and Physiotherapy During and After Pregnancy


Preventing Diastasis Recti:  Pilates and physiotherapy can reduce the severity, width, and incidence of diastasis recti in both the pre- and postnatal period. Focusing on deep core muscles such as the pelvic floor, transversus abdominis, and obliques helps build strength and re-establish connections between your abs and supporting muscles.


Precautions for Pregnant Individuals:  Avoid exercises that cause "doming" of the abdomen (a sign of excessive load on the linea alba). Modify or avoid sit-ups and exercises that produce doming. Focus on activating the deep lower abdominals and use cues like "lift baby with your lower tummy muscles and give baby a hug" during Pilates.


Specific Pilates Exercises to help diastasis recti before and after birth


Strengthening the lower deep abdominals, obliques, and pelvic floor can safely aid in preventing diastasis recti.


Remember to engage your deep core muscles during these exercises and breathe steadily. Start with a few repetitions and gradually increase as you feel stronger. If you experience any discomfort, consult a physiotherapist or Pilates instructor for personalized guidance.


1. Pelvic Tilts:

   - Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor.

   - Inhale to prepare, then exhale as you tilt your pelvis upward (flatten your lower back against the floor).

   - Inhale to return to the neutral position.

   - Repeat 10-15 times.


2. Heel Slides:

   - Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat.

   - Slide one heel away from your body while keeping your pelvis stable.

   - Return the heel to the starting position.

   - Alternate legs and repeat 10-15 times.


3. Leg Circles:

   - Lie on your back with legs extended.

   - Lift one leg toward the ceiling and draw circles with your toes.

   - Reverse the direction after a few circles.

   - Switch legs and repeat.


4. Single-Leg Stretch:

   - Lie on your back, knees bent, and shins parallel to the floor.

   - Lift your head and shoulders off the ground.

   - Extend one leg while pulling the other knee toward your chest.

   - Switch legs and repeat 10-15 times.


5. Side-Lying Leg Lifts:

   - Lie on your side with legs straight.

   - Lift the top leg a few inches off the ground.

   - Lower it back down.

   - Repeat 10-15 times on each side.


Healing Process for Existing Diastasis Recti:


Most natural soft tissue healing occurs within the first 6 weeks postpartum, where many women see their DRAM close.


For those still experiencing separation beyond this point, Pilates and physiotherapy can assist up to approximately 18 weeks postpartum. Specific core strengthening exercises under the guidance of a physiotherapist can be beneficial.


Remember to consult a qualified instructor or physiotherapist to tailor your exercise program based on your individual needs. Pilates, along with proper guidance, can play a valuable role in supporting diastasis recti recovery



About Core LDN


Aimed at revolutionising the fitness and rehabilitation landscape, Core LDN firmly believe

that a one size fits all approach simply doesn't apply to wellness. At the heart of Core LDN's philosophy is a team of expert physiotherapists dedicated to treating and rehabilitating all injuries. Through a fusion of exercise rehabilitation in specialised CORE classes, clients can experience the benefits of Physiotherapy-led Pilates. Whether in recovery mode, navigating pre/postnatal stages, or striving towards specific fitness objectives, individuals can harness the power of personalised Pilates sessions.


To find out more about Core LDN, book a physiotherapy initial appointment or Core LDN Pilates intro visit www.coreldn.com


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