The Truth About Diastasis Recti & Healing Your Core

If you did not read last weeks post Prenatal Fitness, Diastasis Recti, & Body After Baby you might want to do that before you read further so you have some background on what it is I am discussing.

Medical Disclaimer: I also feel I need to put a disclaimer on this post and let you know I am by no means a medical professional or a diastasis recti expert. I am however a mother, certified personal trainer, and yoga instructor. What I am sharing is based on my own research and experience.


When abdominal separation occurs the rectus abdominis (otherwise lovingly referred to by many as the six-pack muscle) is not the only muscle that is affected. It is however what the majority of people notice. Take a look at this picture of the core musculature.

Core Muscles

Many of these muscles are attached to the same structures. The reason this is important to note is because when a muscle looses its stability it can cause a ripple effect throughout the entire body.

In the case of diastasis recti, the entire core of the body, glutes, ribs, pelvic floor, and the deeper core musculature become unstable. Diastasis recti can lead to low back pain, pelvic pain, incontinence, prolapse and urinary urgency/frequency. Women who have abdominal separation also tend to have a higher degree of pelvic floor and abdominal pain.

Hopefully you are starting to see this is a much bigger issue then just a bulging tummy. Diastasis recti can also alter the function and insertion of the transversus abdominis and external oblique muscles. The transverse abdominis is located under the obliques. It is the deepest abdominal muscle and wraps around your spine for protection and stability. Think of this muscle as your internal girdle. When this muscle is strong and well developed it will tighten and slim your waistline. But when this muscle is weak it will alter the basic function of many other muscles. This alteration in biomechanics and insertion can lead to abdominal trigger points. Trigger points are common causes of urinary urgency, urinary frequency and pelvic pain.


There are many factors that play into healing your body after having a baby. Here is a quick breakdown.

  • By 8-12 weeks postpartum your body has done what it will naturally do on its own. Your uterus has shrunk and whatever amount of abdominal separation you have remaining is most likely where it will stay until you intervene.
  • Adjust your thinking about how you are going to go about healing your body. You need to retrain the muscles that have been affected by birthing your baby. Instead of doing a million sit-ups, which by the way won’t do you any good closing your gap, focus on getting back to the basics. Keep reading to see what program I recommend.
  • While nobody likes to hear it, there are certain factors that will determine your rate of healing such as age, space between pregnancies, weight gain, nutrition, and genetics.
  • Keep in mind that no matter where you are in your post baby journey, maybe you had your baby last week or 10 years ago, there is always a way you can improve. Let me be honest, you might never close your gap completely, but you can always improve it. Don’t give up on yourself.

According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists the average distribution of weight gain during pregnancy is 30 pounds. This increase in weight causes internal pressure inside of the abdominal cavity. The pressure is upward, downward, and outward and is what creates the abdominal separation. Before any exercise this abdominal pressure needs to be addressed. There are several ways you can start addressing the pressure right now by adjusting the alignment of your body.

I am a huge fan and believer in chiropractic care. If you are local and need the name of a great chiropractor go and see Dr. Jason Taylor. He is awesome! Besides seeing a chiropractor there are several things you can do at home to begin to correct your alignment. How we sit, stand, and hold ourselves everyday can be adjusted to begin fixing this pressure.

How to Adjust The Alignment of Your Body
  1. Resist the urge to tuck your tailbone. Tucking your tailbone shortens the muscles in your pelvic floor and creates more upward pressure in your abdominal cavity.
  2. Stop sucking in your tummy. Gasp! I know right! But listen and hear me out. I promise this is not just crazy talk. When we suck in our belly’s everything that was hanging out has to go somewhere. So by sucking in we cause more downward pressure on the pelvic floor and further weaken those muscles.
  3. Relax your shoulders. Try not to hold tension in your upper body. Our entire musculature is interconnected by fascia and when the body becomes tight or tense in one spot it has a direct correlation on another.
  4. No high heels. When we wear high heeled shoes our alignment shifts forward. Elevating your heels places more of your body’s weight on your toes, which causes your body, particularly your pelvis, to tilt forward. To compensate and stay upright, you unconsciously lean backward and overarch your back, creating a posture that can strain your knees, hips, and low back.
  5. Find and work the transverse abdominis. Keep reading to see what program I recommend. I will also do a separate post on why this muscle is so important.
  6. Avoid exercises that open the gap. To see what to avoid read my last post: Prenatal Fitness, Diastasis Recti, & Body After Baby.

There are several programs available that focus on healing diastasis recti. I have looked into many of them. By far the best program that I have found and that I support is the Mutu System. The creator Wendy Powell is simply amazing. This program focuses on retraining the muscles in the body, healing the mommy tummy, and correcting the internal pressure.

You can get a free video with Wendy’s top 10 ab exercises by signing up on her website (top right corner).

The Mutu System offers several different programs, DVD + online training. I have the 12 week online program and love it! It never expires and I am currently doing it right now, even during pregnancy. I will also be doing this program after baby girl is born.


I want to thank all of you for reading, commenting, and e-mailing me on this topic. It is nice to know that this information is helpful to you! If you are still wanting more information on diastasis recti please look into Wendy’s program. She is an expert on this topic and has spent years developing the Mutu System to help women reclaim and retrain their bodies after having a baby.

Make sure to share this post with your friends and social network. Let’s get this information out to all the moms we know!

You might also be interested in my Losing The Baby Weight Series! Topics include: Pregnancy & ExerciseWhat to Expect After DeliveryThe First Six WeeksNutrition, and Exercise.

Disclosure: I was so impressed with the Mutu System that I decided to become an affiliate for the program.  


Prenatal Fitness, Diastasis Recti, & Body After Baby

Can I be honest for a moment? This post is for all you ladies who are thinking about becoming pregnant, are currently pregnant, just had a baby last week, have given birth to a child at any point in your life, or for personal trainers who work with any of the afore mentioned demographics.  I think one of the questions we, as women, all ask ourselves at some point is what is having a baby going to do to my body. This might sound very vain and superficial to some but I think it is an important topic to discuss.

I have seen so many women who have had babies, are working out, eating correctly, and to no fault of their own just can not seem to get rid of their baby belly. So what seems to be the problem? The problem is not from lack of motivation or willpower but from the anatomy of the body after baby.

Let me explain…


During pregnancy the body releases the hormone relaxin. This hormone peaks at 14 weeks during pregancy and at the time of labor. It allows the stretching of the muscles and ligaments to accommodate the growing baby and prepare the mama’s body for labor and delivery.

Ladies, lets just take a moment of silence and be thankful for how awesome our body’s have been made in order to accomplish such a feat.

(Crickets chirping)

Now that that is over…

Here are several things you may notice thanks to this hormone coursing throughout your body during pregnancy.

  • Increased range of motion. This can be a blessing or an annoyance.
  • Lack of stability and balance in pelvis. Your hips feel off or your back is tighter on one side due to shifting.
  • Ribs may easily shift out of place. The ribs are a joint. With the increased range of motion the joints are more susceptible to misalignments. This is quite painful and can cause a pinched feeling in your back or chest and can also hinder your ability to take deep breaths.

If you are an avid gym-goer or enjoy high and frequent levels of physical activity you may also notice that your tummy does not look quite right and appears to be bulging in plank or pushup position.

I want to focus on the bulging tummy. Or the cone shaped tummy. If you have seen this on yourself or a client you know exactly what I am talking about.

This would be the perfect time to talk anatomy. So let’s discuss.


If you have had a baby you might be one of the many women who have no idea that their abdominal muscles have separated and are still separated. Did you know that this could even happen? I had no idea until after I gave birth to Caden. As a personal trainer this was nothing I even learned about in my course work (I will discuss why this is important later).

Take a look at the Rectus Abdominis both before and during pregnancy…


The Linea Alba, the connective tissue between the right and left half of the Rectus Abdominis, stretches to accommodate the growing baby. For some women the gap closes naturally on its own. For others the connective tissue has become overly stretched and aggravated that it does not heal properly which leaves the new mama with an unwanted belly bulge months and even years after her bundle of joy has arrived. And for a mama who has multiple pregnancies the gap can become noticeably wider each time.

This gap is known as Diastasis Recti. But before I talk about after the baby let me briefly discuss prenatal exercise and things to keep in mind once you become pregnant.


I am a huge proponent of exercising during pregnancy. If you have been cleared by your doctor to exercise and exercised prior to pregnancy this will be a very beneficial section for you to read. If you want more information on the types of physical activity that are beneficial during pregnancy you can read my post Pregnancy & Exercise.

Certain exercises can aggravate and cause the gap between your Rectus Abdominis to become more severe during pregnancy. I tend to shy away from tons of crunches and situps because they can put more strain on the abdominal wall. I recommend planks or some type of plank variation for all my clients when it comes to programming their workouts.

Planks and Pushups are super beneficial exercises to do, but need to be done mindfully. You can place your hands on a bench, table, stairs, or even against the wall to modify this exercise. When you look at your midsection while you are doing this you should see more of a gradually rounding. If you see a bulge in the middle elevate your hands further from the floor. There is no shame elevating your plank. Protect yourself.


Congratulations! You have had your baby. Here is a simple way to tell if your muscles are still separated (give yourself a few months to heal before you do this test) and movements to avoid if you find you have abdominal separation.

Diastasis Recti/Abdominal Separation Test
  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent, and the soles of your feet on the floor.
  2. Place one hand behind your head, and the other hand on your abdomen, with your fingertips across your midline-parallel with your waistline- at the level of your belly button.
  3. With your abdominal wall relaxed, gently press your fingertips into your abdomen.
  4. Roll your upper body off the floor into a “crunch,” making sure that your ribcage moves closer to your pelvis.
  5. Move your fingertips back and forth across your midline, feeling for the right and left sides of your rectus abdominis muscle. Test for separation at, above, and below your belly button.
Signs of Diastasis Recti/Abdominal Separation
  • A gap of more than 2 1/2 finger-widths when the rectus abdominis is fully contracted.
  • The gap does not shrink as you contract your abdominal wall.
  • You can see a small mound protruding along the length of you midline.
Some Types of Movement to Avoid
  • Movements where the upper body twists and the arm on that side extends away from the body, such as “triangle pose.”
  • Exercises that require lying backward over a large exercise ball.
  • Yoga postures that stretch the abs, such as “cow pose,” “up-dog,” all backbends, and “belly breathing.”
  • Abdominal exercises that flex the upper spine off the floor or against the force of gravity such as: as crunches, oblique curls, “bicycles,” roll ups/roll downs, etc.
  • Pilates mat and reformer exercises that utilize the “head float” position, upper body flexion, or double leg extension.
  • Any exercise that causes your abdominal wall to bulge out upon exertion.
  • Lifting and carrying very heavy objects.
  • Quadruped exercises without adequate abdominal support.
  • Intense coughing without abdominal support.

This is just a brief explanation on abdominal separation and I would be happy to go into more detail if you have further questions.


I am here to show you that you can totally reclaim your body after baby. In fact you can be stronger! Here are a few pictures of me postpartum. I promise I will post pictures after this baby girl is born too.

Belly Before & After Delivery

2-8 Months Postpartum

If anything I hope this post has encouraged you and shed light on what is really going on with your body after being pregnant. It is not that you are not doing enough, it could be that you just didn’t know what was really happening with your body.

For this reason alone if you are working with a personal trainer please make sure they are educated on how a woman’s body works before, during, and after pregnancy. Their lack of education might be hindering your physical transformation. On this same note I want to caution you about Pinterest/YouTube/Facebook/Instagram workouts. While I am all for inspiring others to live healthier lives it is important to point out that those workouts might not be best for someone who has just had a baby or who has abdominal separation. This is why it is so important to have someone who can coach you on your goals who understands and has training in anatomy/physiology and how it relates to human movement. 

For those who have just had or are about to have a baby I highly recommend a Belly Bandit! These are amazing and will help close the abdominal gap after giving birth, allow you to wear your pre-preganacy clothes sooner, and offer you low back support. Seriously go buy one for after the baby is born! You won’t regret it. Just for reference I used a small the first week after I had Caden and sized down to the extra small until I was 6 weeks postpartum.

I also highly recommend the MuTu System for those wanting to heal their core and pelvic floor after giving birth.

You might also be interested in my Losing The Baby Weight Series! Topics include: Pregnancy & ExerciseWhat to Expect After DeliveryThe First Six WeeksNutrition, and Exercise.

Additional Reading: 


Losing The Baby Weight: Exercise

Happy Wednesday friends! If you are just joining the Losing The Baby Weight series welcome!

Here are the topics that have previously been covered:

Wednesday, June 12Pregnancy & Exercise

Wednesday, June 19What To Expect After You Deliver

Wednesday, June 26The First Six Weeks

Wednesday, July 3: Nutrition

Losing The Baby Weight

I am proof that it is possible to be in even better shape after you have a baby. Carrying around my 20 pound little man is the best exercise there is. Handwork, good nutrition, and lots of motivation do make a difference. It just takes time and effort. Being a mom is a full time job and I have learned to make the most of the time I have to workout. I train at a higher intensity to make sure I am getting every minute I can out of my workouts. It is really neat to look back over the last few months and see my progress.

2-8 Months Postpartum

If you would like to read more about my monthly progress check out my 8 MONTH, 9 MONTH, and 10 MONTH after baby stats. I am sharing a photo of me 9 months after Caden was born and a comparison photo of my tummy before pregnancy and 8 Months after baby.



Hopefully these photo’s give you encouragement that it is totally possible to reclaim your body after having a baby. Every mama’s return to her post baby body is going to look different depending on how she took care of herself before, during, and after pregnancy. Be sure to read about The First Six Weeks HERE if you haven’t already. The first step before you start those heavy sweat sessions is to make sure you have been cleared by your doctor. Today I am going to share a few general tips and what worked for me in my recovery.

Intensity, Duration, and Frequency of Exercise

For the majority of people that hardest part of exercising is getting started. There are so many excuses that all of us can use in our daily lives for reason why we didn’t exercise during the day. I am going to break down a simple way for you to plan your next workout.

Intensity: How hard are you working during your workout? Can you hold a conversation? This would indicate that it is a lower intensity and should be done for a longer duration. Walking would be an example of a lower intensity exercise. High intensity workouts include HITT and CrossFit.

Duration: How long do you want your session to last? This will depend on how much intensity you are training at for the day and what type of workout you are performing. If you are short on time a workout at a higher intensity would be most beneficial because you can more calories in a shorter time span. These workouts can last between 15-30 minutes. But they are hard. If you can get up off the floor and hold a conversation after this type of workout you are not working hard enough.

Frequency: How often are you exercising? How many days a week are you going to workout? If you are only going to workout 3 days a week these workouts will need to be at a higher intensity level and for a longer duration to see the results you are hoping for.

Diastasis Recti

I feel like I would be doing new mama’s a disservice by not including information on abdominal separation in this post. This is what happens when the Rectus Abdominis becomes overly stretched and separates into right and left halves. This muscle is usually joined in the middle but if it becomes separated during pregnancy the core is weakened and results in a pooched tummy that doesn’t seem to go away even with a proper diet and exercise. If you would like more information on Diastasis Recti and how to determine if you have it and what you can do to treat it click HERE to read a great article by Bikini Body Mommy.


As soon as you can move, do it. Two days after Caden was born we went on our first family walk. I didn’t move very fast or walk very far but each day I gradually increased my speed and distance. By the time he was 2 weeks old we were averaging 2 miles a day walking around our neighborhood.

Build Your At Home Gym

Weights, DVD’s, a mat, jump rope, and water bottle are awesome items that can be added to your baby registry. The key to success is to plan ahead. Even if you have a gym membership somedays it is just easier to stay at home. I really had great results with Jillian Michels 30 Day Shred.

Buddy Up

This is so important! The accountability of a friend is huge. Staying committed to exercising for the day becomes a lot easier when you know another person is meeting you. I have several friends who I can swim, run, cycle, yoga, or lift weights with. Lots of workout buddies are awesome!

Lift Weights

Don’t be afraid of strength training. Resistance training speeds up your metabolism. If you want to loose weight lift weights. Use dumbbells or hold on to your baby while you do a few rounds of squats and lunges. Target big muscles groups because they will burn more calories. Or better yet do compound exercises like squats with an overhead press and lunges with biceps curls for an even greater calorie burn.

Schedule Yourself On The Calendar

Mommy’s, we need to make ourselves a priority. Grab your calendars and plan out your workouts for the week ahead of time. You will be more likely to stick to your workouts and also make sure that you are getting in the right amount of strength, cardio, and flexibility training each week. If you like to workout early in the morning layout the clothes you are going to wear and have your gym bag packed the night before. Many times I would have not made it out of bed when my alarm would go off at 4:30am (before Caden was born) if I had not had everything ready to go for my morning workouts. Find a time that works best for you and your family and stick with it or better yet bring them along for a family walk/jog/run/yoga class/workout.

Get Creative

Once Caden was born I worked out while he napped or kept him next to me on his blanket while I exercised. Now that he is moving more he enjoys going for runs with me in the stroller or I use him as a weight for squats, lunges, deadlifts, and curls. It is like playtime for him and I am getting a great workout!

Dress For Success When You Exercise

Throw away your sweat pants and oversized t-shirts. They will get in the way of your workout and also make you look bigger. Dress modest and cute while getting your sweat on without causing others to be distracted by skimpy outfits.

Write Down Your Goals

Make sure you know what you are working towards. Don’t limit yourself to only health and wellness goals. What other area’s of your life are you wanting to grow in? Setting goals for each area of your life will create balance and create a happier you. You can read my goals HERE.

Be The Example

We all want our children to grow up to be happy and healthy individuals. The best place they can learn this is at home. Include your kids in your workouts. Love yourself and love your body. We are all works in progress and each day is an opportunity to move forward towards your goals and dreams.

Remember exercise is just one part of the equation. I hope this series was helpful for you. Be on the lookout for workouts on this blog to keep you motivated in your healthy lifestyle journey.

Thanks for reading and for leaving comments! They really do make my day!

xoxo, Tamara