10 facts you need to know about abdominal muscle separation

Pregnancy and childbirth can change your body drastically. Fortunately, many of these changes are temporary and can be reversed with the right help. One such change is the abdominal muscle separation that women face during their gestation period. It is not as well-known as the changes of uterine prolapse or urinary incontinence also faced by mums-to-be.

This article will discuss the lesser-known facts about abdominal muscle separation during pregnancy in detail. Continue reading to know more!

What is abdominal muscle separation?

Essentially, abdominal muscle separation is the condition when, as the name suggests, the rectus abdominis muscles start separating. These muscles are commonly known as the 6-pack muscles. This condition is also called ‘diastasis recti’ or ‘rectus diastasis’, which literally translates to the separation of rectus abdominis muscles. People with excess weight or pregnant women are prone to experiencing this condition.

#1 It occurs naturally during pregnancy

It occurs naturally in varying degrees towards the end of your pregnancy. Abdominal muscle separation has a purpose, which is to accommodate the growing baby inside you. When these muscles separate, they allow more space for the uterus to expand. Therefore, it is not completely an unnecessary thing to go through when you’re pregnant.

Most women don’t feel this separation during pregnancy. And on the bright side, it goes away naturally too. You only need to worry if your muscles don’t close after 8-12 weeks of childbirth.

#2 You may reduce or prevent a wide abdominal muscle separation during pregnancy

It goes unnoticed for many women during pregnancy. But if you are aware and careful enough beforehand, you might be able to notice and feel it too. It helps to manage the size of your diastasis. Posture management, exercise and healthy nutrition can all help towards reducing the separation.

Some health practitioners advocate regulating the level of separation of muscles right from the beginning to heal sooner after childbirth. Issues such as lower back and SI joint pain, hernia, poor posture, urinary incontinence, etc. can be reduced by solving ab muscle separation.

#3 It can be healed many years after childbirthA woman with abdominal muscle separation lying on a couch holding her stomach.

It is never too late to heal from the diastasis recti you experienced during your pregnancy. Women have reported healing from it as long as 10 years after going through childbirth. It can be done with proper exercise, making healthy nutrition and lifestyle choices, and following a healthy routine. The only thing that matters is consistent and disciplined efforts. It is only strengthening some muscles in your body after all. Do not get stressed out and ask for help from experienced and qualified health practitioners.

#4 Not all women need surgery to correct it

You might come across more than one person or article claiming surgery as the only option to heal from diastasis recti. But there is less substance in this claim than finding aliens on Saturn. According to statistics, only 5% of women who experience abdominal muscle separation during pregnancy need surgery to come out of it. For the rest of us, exercise, and nutrition work wonders. Always take more than one opinion from credible sources before deciding what’s best for you.

#5 Proper breathing and activating core muscles are important

Yes, there is a thing like breathing properly! Learning to breathe properly can help to activate the 4 core muscles. This ultimately helps in reducing the gap between abdominal muscles. If we are not breathing properly and activating core muscles cannot lead us to heal. Ask your doctor to demonstrate how to breathe properly and engage the core muscles the right way.

#6 Addressing constipation is important

Solving bowel function issues like constipation is important as it often puts considerable pressure on the abdominal wall. Adopting proper toilet positions, exercise, and abdominal massage techniques by a trained and experienced pelvic floor physiotherapist can take you a long way into healing and recovering from diastasis. Proper gut function is hence crucial for healing.

#7 Soft-tissue therapies can helpA woman standing holding her stomach because she has abdominal muscle separation.

According to experts, the best way to assess the condition of your abdominal muscles is to do it manually. Implying that a therapist or doctor needs to put their hands on your abdomen and check the position of the recti muscles. It helps us know if the muscles and connective tissues are tight, stuck, or moving well. Following this assessment, you might get a clearer insight into what soft tissue work is needed.

#8 Wearing compression garments might be an option

There is a debate about the usefulness of belly belts helping women to reduce diastasis. Many women and health practitioners find it useful while others do not. Leaving this option aside, you might want to try using compression garments. They are specially designed to support your lower back and pelvic floor muscles during pregnancy and while recovering from it. Strategic compression might prove beneficial to treat abdominal muscle separation. Ask your doctor about using these garments and the right size for you.

#9 Stress can deteriorate the condition further

As is widely known, our thoughts make up much of our experience with life. Stressing about things can lead to suffering more. As philosophical as it sounds, it stands true for physical health too. Stress can only lead to deteriorating your overall health. Therefore, learn to relax and trust the process. You will get your muscular gaps closed with proper guidance and in due time.

#10 C-sections can make closing diastasis recti difficult

The incision on the abdomen is to be blamed for making it a little more difficult for women to heal abdominal muscle separation after c-sections. But remember difficult does not mean impossible.  Many women heal perfectly after a caesarean section surgery and you won’t even know if it changed anything.


Although it sounds frightening, abdominal muscle separation can be healed with proper guidance and exercise. Take care of your body and talk to your doctor about it for more information.

Sinead O'Donovan
Sinead O'Donovanhttps://www.srchealth.com/
Sinead helps women in their health and well-being journey. Sinead works with SRC Health to provide continuous support and relief of pain during pregnancy and faster C-section recovery in 4th trimester. Her mission is to support women through all stages of life.
Share this