Aug 17, 2017

Pregnancy problems - rectus abdominus diastasis

During pregnancy, certain ligaments have to stretch and the stomach walls have to make space for the growing baby.  The stomach muscles are made up of 4 layers. The top layer is called the rectus abdominus and runs from the bottom of the rib cage down to the pubic bone of the pelvis.


The muscle is made up of 2 halves which connect together in the middle. During pregnancy and labour, these 2 parts can separate leaving a wide gap in the abdomen, this is called a rectus abdominus diastasis.

After any delivery the muscles of the stomach may be weakened and stretched, and can remain so for some time. However, the presence of a Rectus Abdominus Diastasis results in greater weakness of the whole area. This will reduce the support given to the lower back and can therefore cause back pain, instability of the pelvis and resultant pain or can add to your pelvic floor problems.

A rectus abdominus Diastasis is not dangerous but care is required to encourage reduction of the separation.

The aim of treatment is to re-educate and strengthen the deeper stomach muscles to try and return them to their pre-pregnancy condition. A Chartered Physiotherapist can help you with a specific exercise programme and, hopefully, this will help to improve the Diastasis over time. The exercises will focus on your muscular corset, especially the deeper stomach muscle transversus abdominus.

While the muscles are strengthening, it is important to protect the weakened muscles from further strain. So follow these tips :-

·         No sit ups – these can worsen NOT improve your situation

·         Take care getting in and out of bed

·         Avoid heavy lifting or straining

·         Perform correct pelvic floor exercises regularly – wrong or inefficient techniques can prolong or even worsen your symptoms.

If you have a diastasis or suspect you might have one, or any other issues during or following pregnancy, why not speak to the women’s health physios at St Judes who will be pleased to help.

Call us on 01525 377751 or email