How to Prevent Diastasis Recti During Pregnancy?

Diastasis Recti is widening of a gap in your abdominal muscles that is often happening during pregnancy.

Diastasis Recti is more common than actually taught.

Almost all pregnant women have some degree of widening in between their abdominal muscles during their pregnancy and early postpartum, but sometimes the gap doesn’t close by itself.

The widening is exactly between the two sections of your Rectus Abdominis, or what should be your six-pack.

The widening is happening at Linea Alba, the connective tissue in the middle of your abdomen. The tissue is widening and stretching and losing its elasticity.

Diastasis Recti is more common in women:

  • With second and every subsequent pregnancy
  • After multiple pregnancies
  • After multiple pregnancies in a short period
  • After having twins or triplets
  • After having big babies

There are lots of ways to heal your Diastasis Recti after birth, but the question is can you prevent it from happening?

There is no 100% guarantee that you won’t get it or that you can prevent it from happening, but there sure are ways of how to decrease your chances of getting Diastasis Recti still in pregnancy.

With activities and exercises that I’ll show you here, you can decrease your chances of developing Diastasis Recti.

The key to not developing it is in strong Transverse Abdominis muscles so that is the main thing you need to work on during your pregnancy.

Here are the exercises you can do daily during your pregnancy.

1. TVA breathing on a Pilates ball

TvA breathing is the base of a strong and functional core. It is an amazing way to start strengthening your inner core muscles during pregnancy.

After you learn how to engage your deep core muscles properly you’ll be able to use this technique during other workout routines in your pregnancy and after you give birth.

In addition, TvA breathing is essential in healing your core after birth.

How you do TvA breathing on a Pilates ball?

  1. Sit on the ball with your feet on the floor. Keep your posture neutral and keep in mind that your knees should be on the same level or below hip height
  2. Inhale and let the air fulfil your entire rib cage.
  3. Exhale and gently pull your belly button inwards and at the same time moving your pelvic floor upwards. Make the “sssss” sound while you are exhaling as this can help you to feel better your deep core muscles.
  4. Hold for a few seconds and then repeat again.

Keep in mind that the movement should come only from your core and pelvic floor muscles.

You should feel your pelvic floor muscles going in upwards direction. If you don’t, while you are exhaling, imagine that you are sucking a drink with a straw. That is the movement you need to do with your pelvic floor.

Remember, your pelvis shouldn’t move, just your pelvic floor muscles.

Don’t hold your breath and don’t suck your belly in, you just gently pull you muscles inwards.

You can do TvA breathing while laying on the floor or in the bed or while standing.

Doing it on the Pilates ball is a way bigger challenge for your core as it needs to work harder to stabilise your body while sitting on an unstable surface.

You can do this exercise daily during your pregnancy. Do 10 breaths and repeat it 3 times in total.

2. Use your Pilates ball instead of a chair

Pilates ball is an amazing ally during pregnancy. You can use it in so many ways, and one of them would be just using it instead of a chair.

Sitting on the is helping your core to stay activated and sitting on the ball is like a core exercise during pregnancy.

Sitting on the ball opens the pelvis and requires you to keep your abdominal muscles and back firm to be able to maintain balance.

While sitting on the ball, keep your feet on the floor. Your knees should be on the same level or below the hip height.

Make sure your ball is right for you.

If your knees are above your hip height, the ball is probably too big for you. You can release a bit of air of it or try a smaller sized ball.

There is no limit for sitting on your ball, you can do it daily and avoid sitting in chairs or sofas altogether. The ball is often more comfortable to sit on during pregnancy and it is easier to get off it.

If you feel unstable, hold to something while sitting.

You can rock, sway or bounce on your ball too. This is perfect for sore muscles during pregnancy and can also help the baby to get in a better position for birth.

This often means easier and quicker birth for you.

Use your ball while watching TV, working on a computer, eating your meals. You can even take it with you to work or ask your employer to provide you with one during your office hours.

3. Bodyweight Squat

The squat is the ultimate compound movement for everyone in every stage of their life, but it is especially beneficial during pregnancy.

Squatting has a big impact on almost all the muscles in your body.

While squatting, you are working your deepest abdominal muscles – Transverse Abdominis, your legs, your glutes and your pelvic floor muscles at the same time.

Working on strong Transverse Abdominis is the most important thing in preventing diastasis so squatting is a great exercise to do during pregnancy.

Diastasis Recti is almost always connected with weak pelvic floor muscles which are very common during pregnancy, especially with multiple pregnancies and big babies.

Squatting is working on this too because it is great in strengthening your pelvic floor muscles.

Benefits of squatting during pregnancy:

  1. Prevents and eases lower back pain and pelvic pain during pregnancy – strong gluteus are stabilising your pelvis by supporting sacroiliac joint. This prevents pain which is often caused by pregnancy hormones that are loosening ligaments
  2. Help strengthen your deep core muscles – while squatting your deep abdominal muscles are activated as your core is trying to stabilise your body while squatting
  3. Strengthen your pelvic floor muscles – squats are strengthening your pelvic floor muscles and preparing them for birth
  4. Helps you prepare for birth – they are helping your baby to descend into the pelvic area faster and also, squatting during pregnancy is working on your endurance for birth positions

The squat is amazing.

You can start squatting early in pregnancy and build up as your pregnancy progresses.

If you experience pain or discomfort while exercising or you are not sure if your medical circumstances allow you to exercise during pregnancy, talk to your care provider or your midwife.

4. Glute bridge

The bridge is an amazing exercise not only for during pregnancy and new moms but everyone.

It will help you to better engage your deep abdominal muscles and be more aware of them. Also, this is one of the most important exercises to tone your glutes and hamstrings. It is also amazing in strengthening your pelvic floor muscles.

Glute bridge works on almost every lower body muscle, but also on your core. This is a great way to exercise your core during pregnancy.

If classic glute bridges seem too easy, you can try single leg glute bridges to make it more challenging.

How to perform a bridge?

  1. Lay on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Try to maintain your spine in a neutral position. Bend your knees and place your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Inhale, and then exhale gently pulling your belly button inwards and your pelvic floor muscles upwards. This is to better control your core and be sure that is properly engaged.
  3. Drive your feet into the ground and lift your hips upwards by squeezing your glutes. Your hips should make a straight line between from your knees to your hips to your shoulders. Hold for a few seconds while squeezing on the top.
  4. Come down smoothly. Drop your hips slowly, don’t drop them fast. The motion should be smooth.

Don’t do glute bridges in the third trimester because it is not recommended to do workouts on you back during that time. This is because of the extra pressure on vena cava in pregnancy.

5. Go on daily walks

Is there anything better than long walks during pregnancy? And they have so many benefits for your health too.

Walking is great for cardiovascular health, it will make your heart pump and also long brisk walks can help you in controlling your weight gain during pregnancy.

Walking during pregnancy is a light exercise that’s easy on your joints and knees. High impact exercises and jogging are not the best way to exercise during pregnancy so walking is a great alternative.

Walking is working on your core too, your core needs to work to stabilise your body while walking and that is exactly what you need during your pregnancy.

At the end of pregnancy, it is also beneficial for helping your baby descend to the pelvis and is an effective way of preparation for birth.

Walking will make you healthier and happier, your mood will improve and you are going to be a happier mum.

You can walk as much as you want! Long walks are better but even a few shorter ones can be very beneficial. Now, off you go for a walk!

All these activities will help you to strengthen your core during your pregnancy in a safe way, but they will also help you with usual pregnancy issues like back pain and leg cramps.

There is no guarantee that this, or anything else can prevent Diastasis Recti for sure, but for a lot of women, this was the key to not developing diastasis or just having a minimal widening that is easily healed after birth.

Give this a go and see how it will work for you!

USEFUL READING: Supplements in pregnancy and how to use them properly?

Renata Sanko
Certified personal trainer with years spent on education and research on how to help women heal their body after birth. I have dedicated myself to help other women to regain and heal their body after having a baby...

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