My Abdominal Muscles Split during Pregnancy… Now What?

What is it?

This is a common condition during and after pregnancy called Diastasis Rectus Abdominis (DRA), which means a separation of your rectus abdominis muscle along the midline of your body (linea alba). It may or may not be painful.

What happened?

As your baby (or babies) grow during pregnancy, your abdominal wall must accommodate by stretching outward. However, your rectus abdominis (six pack) often times cannot make it without separating down the middle.

What can you do about it?

Ask your medical professional to evaluate it, especially if it is causing you pain or discomfort. Poor closure of your DRA causes limitations in your core stability, possibly leading to back pain and affecting your functional mobility. You need to be healthy to take care of yourself and your little one(s)!

Treatment both during and after pregnancy often includes an abdominal support to aid your abdominal and core muscle function while you work on strengthening these same muscles (see more below ). More dynamic, elastic supports are favorable over rigid supports, since they are more comfortable and allow muscles to function better during wear.

Additionally, your healthcare provider’s treatment may include education on self-assessment of your DRA and on activities to limit/avoid, exercises to re-educate and strengthen your abdominal muscles while self-correcting your DRA, and progressive strengthening of your core muscles (including your pelvic floor) with functional activities while maintaining correction of your DRA.

Don’t worry, you will not have to wear the support forever! Many DRA’s will respond well to treatment. Once your baby is delivered and your muscles are correctly strengthened and re-educated most women are able to return their prior level of function without an external support.

If you feel you need evaluation or treatment for a DRA, please consult with your medical provider and ask for a referral to a women’s health physical therapist.