Mind the gap: How to check whether you have a diastasis recti

Dr. Cortina McCurry
3min read

Wondering why you still look pregnant months after delivering? Well it might be that you have what’s called a diastasis recti also known as a 'Split', 'Pooch' or a ' Mummy Tummy'.

How do I know if I have a diastasis recti?

A diastasis occurs when the large vertical muscles of our abdomen, the rectus abdominis separate. You may find that when you are lying down and lift up you will have a furrow or bulge along the midline of your abdomen.

Often this will occur during pregnancy as a result of the growing baby. Many, if not all women experience some degree of abdominal separation - if fact about 2/3 of postpartum women have some degree of separation. However, while it is common, it's important that women are aware of it so that they can take early preventative action to reduce the size of the gap and to take action to repair it.

Why is it important to check for a diastasis recti?

A diastasis recti can lead to a range of problems: lower back pain, constipation, pelvic floor dysfunction, urinary incontinence and abdominal weakness. If it is left untreated it can sometimes result in a painful hernia. So let's get on top of it.

Our friends at BodyKind have created a short video to help you check yourself at home to see whether you may have a diastasis rdecti.

Step 1:

Lie flat on your back with your knees bent. Be sure to relax your abdominal muscles to avoid a false reading.

Step 2:

Starting from the sternum, gently press your fingers into the midline of your belly, and slowly walk your way down until you get just below your belly button testing the tautness of the connective tissue between your rectus abdominus muscles, the linea alba.

Step 3: 

Take the measurement in 3 places, just above the belly button, just below, and just above the pelvic bone. What you are looking for is where you muscles just start to come together and whether there is a gap. You want to take the measurements when your belly is  relaxed.

If you think that you may have a diastasis recti have a chat to your doctor. They should be able to refer you to a specialist who can help. Additionally, check back here at Caia as you may find a practitioner who can support.

If you are pregnant, don't forget to consult our blog post on five things to talk to your doctor about BEFORE you give birth.