Diastasis Recti Repair for Postpartum Moms: Is it Necessary?

Women who have undergone pregnancy are very familiar with diastasis recti. It is the gap within the abdominal muscles caused by stretching during the growth of the uterus in the child-bearing months. 

Diastasis recti is more of a cosmetic issue than anything else. That gap can be wider for some women, accompanied by abdominal weakness and back pain. 

This ab separation can usually heal by itself through some exercises. But in extreme cases, surgery or diastasis recti repair may be required. 

If you’re one of those wondering if you will need to undergo an operation, this article will provide you with information that would help you make a decision. 

How Does the Procedure Work?

A diastasis recti repair is not a walk in the park. It is a complicated procedure that involves a tummy tuck of varying levels, depending on the amount of excess skin present in addition to the gap, as well as the person’s anatomy. 

Those who have too much of it will need to undergo a full tummy tuck. That means having the extra skin removed, the muscle tightened, and the belly button relocated to a new spot within the abdominal skin area. 

Recovery is another obstacle you will have to jump over. For around two weeks after the procedure, patients will have very limited mobility in their upper bodies. Those who follow a consistent workout regimen that involves lifting weights and core exercises will need to abstain for up to six weeks. 

As for the swelling? It may take around six months for that to subside completely. 

Image by engin akyurt from Pixabay

When is Surgery Needed?

Medical experts advise postpartum moms to deeply assess their condition before going under the knife. However, they require the separation to be at least two centimeters wide, which is the width of two fingers. 

Ultimately, you will need to ask yourself whether or not you need the operation. Is it already affecting and disrupting your daily life? Or do you just want it for cosmetic purposes? 

What Are the Alternatives to Surgery?

Plank Exercise
Photo by Sergio Pedemonte on Unsplash

There are other options outside of surgery. A physical therapist would be able to recommend several exercises to strengthen the abdominal muscles. They can also recommend correct techniques to improve posture, lifting, and mobility. 

Here are some workouts you can try, which mainly target the core area: 

1. Pelvic Tilts

  • Start on all fours, with both hands and knees on the ground and the spine in a neutral position.
  • Inhale into both sides of the ribcage, and then exhale into a kegel (or pretending to urinate then holding it). Make sure to draw your tailbone down.
  • Take another inhale as you return to a neutral position while keeping your glutes relaxed. Do this slowly and consciously for at least ten times.

2. Single-Leg Reach

  • Begin this exercise on your back while in a tabletop position.
  • With your pelvis being still, reach for one of your legs. Keep it long and on a high diagonal as you exhale. Inhale as you return to a neutral position. 
  • Do this exercise at least ten times on both legs.

3. Side Plank

  • With an elbow placed directly underneath the shoulder, place your top leg in front of the hind leg. Make sure to keep both feet on the floor and both the shoulders and hips in line with the head and feet. 
  • Breathe deeply and hold in your core while holding this position for 20 seconds at most.