A consequence of pregnancy you might not know about - Diastasis Recti

July 19

A consequence of pregnancy you might not know about - Diastasis Recti

By Marissa Pajot Webb and Sarah Tyler

Marissa found out that she had DR after her second baby, although she had in fact had it from her first pregnancy without realising it was the cause of many of her difficulties.  Many women are not aware they have it, but it can have a major impact on health and quality of life.   Sarah Tyler, Women’s Health Specialist Physiotherapist who works with women diagnosed with Diastasis Recti talked to Marissa about it.

 

What causes DR and how many women are likely to have it?

During pregnancy, the connective tissue that holds your abdominal muscles together stretches outwards to accommodate the baby.  For 36% of women (based on recent studies), this connective tissue will not ‘recoil’ back, and will leave what feels like a gap.  If left untreated, it could lead to complications such as pelvic floor dysfunction and incontinence.   

 

How do you know if you have it?

Symptoms include abdominal aches, low back pain or pelvic floor issues.  One of the tell-tale signs is abdominal doming – your tummy bulging outwards – when you get out of bed or get out of the bath. You may be able to feel a lump in your abdomen, which could indicate a hernia; a common complication of DR. 

 

What should you do if you think you have got it?

Try to avoid prolonged heavy lifting such as carrying a baby car seat (with my baby, I try to put the car seat straight on to the pram, or only carry for short distances – though easier said than done sometimes). Get assessed by a specialist women’s health physiotherapist and avoid traditional abs exercises such as sit ups and planks.  If you are pregnant and aware that you suffered from DR previously, wearing a support such as a tubigrip could help. 

 

Can you be completely healed from DR?

Absolutely.  However it is possible to have fully functioning, strong abdominals even with a small gap.  It’s not just about the gap, but the integrity of the gap. 

 

What about surgery?

Surgery could be considered if a woman has an umbilical hernia that is painful or affecting her quality of life or if she has stopped breastfeeding for over a year, has been participating in regular physiotherapy, but has seen little improvement.

 

If you feel that you may have DR and would like to be assessed by Sarah, please contact 

Ed Kirby Physiotherapy on 01279 260 408 to book an appointment. 

 

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