Housing and birthing a tiny human is one of the most rewarding and unique experiences in life. However, with the joy of motherhood, also comes change. Abdominal muscle separation (or Diastasis Recti) is one of those changes that can happen to your body after you give birth. If left untreated, it can impact your health and day-to-day life.
During pregnancy, the pressure from a growing baby means that the abdominal muscle stretches, thins, and pulls apart from the linea alba (connective tissue) that holds the abs together. This separation can create a gap down the centre of the ab muscles meaning they can no longer contract effectively. Because of this separation, you may notice a visible bulge in your stomach area that wasn’t there before pregnancy.
Diastasis Recti is a totally normal post-pregnancy condition, with approximately 1 in 3 women (37%) experiencing it after their first pregnancy, and 2 in 3 women (67%) who have had multiple pregnancies. The size of connective tissue separation can range from 2cm to 20cm wide and can be shallow, wide, narrow and deep.
The abdominal muscles are very important for posture, stability and movement. When these muscles aren’t functioning properly, you may experience poor posture, lower back pain and difficulty with some movements. Long-term health complications of diastasis recti can lead to chronic lower back pain, urinary incontinence, constipation, pelvic and hip pain.
How do I know if I have Diastasis Recti?
Whilst we encourage you to see a medical professional to diagnose your Diastasis Recti, for peace of mind, you can also check yourself using the finger-width method.
To check for abdominal muscle separation:
1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet planted on the floor
2. Lift your head ever so slightly
3. With two hands, starting under your breastbone, feel down the midline to below your belly button
4. With one hand, change the direction so that your palm is facing towards your face
5. Place your fingers at the top of your ab muscles under your breastbone
6. Gently move your fingers down the midline
7. If there is separation, you will feel a gap between the six-pack muscles down the middle of the trunk
8. See how many fingers can fit into this space
Generally, a one to two finger width gap between the two recti muscles (six-pack muscles) is normal. However, a gap larger than 2.7cm or two finger widths is considered separation. Depth of connective tissue also impacts the severity of Diastasis Recti. Deeper tissue can be harder to fix than shallow tissue.
What are my options to treat Diastasis Recti?
Whilst Diastasis Recti might be inevitable, it’s never too late to correct! Even years after you’ve given birth, you can heal your separation, reducing the distance between the separated ab muscles and the damage to the stretched connective tissue.
Diastasis Recti can be treated with invasive surgery (similar to a tummy tuck), but this can be painful and expensive.
The first non-surgical method to improve this condition, is the pain-free body contouring treatment, EmSculpt. Clinically proven to reduce Diastasis Recti by 11% on average over a course of four treatments in a two-week time period. Using high-intensity focused electromagnetic energy, EmSculpt is designed to build muscle!
The process is simpler than you might think. EmSculpt induces 20,000 intense contractions each session (this is the equivalent of doing 20,000 crunches!). You’ll start with a series of four EmSculpt sessions over two weeks. Depending on how severe your separation is, you may require additional treatments. You should notice a difference in the separation around two to four weeks after your last treatment and results continue to develop up to eight weeks after.
EmSculpt clients, following a course of treatments, comment that they feel stronger in their core and can see a noticeable difference in the shape and appearance of their stomach. In addition, EmSculpt clients find they have better posture, improved performance at sports or gym activity, reduced back pain, and an increase in confidence.
If you’re looking to improve your post-pregnancy abdominal separation and get your pre-baby stomach back, we are here to help! Book a free consultation with one of our qualified EmSculpt technicians to learn more.