Pregnancy & Diastasis Recti


During pregnancy, as your baby grows, your abdominal muscles and fascia must stretch to allow more room.


The main muscle involved is the Rectus Abdominus or the visible ‘six pack’ and the central fascia, the Linea Alba.

The Linea Alba connects the two halves of the Rectus Abdominus together.


During pregnancy the hormone Relaxin is released, which causes the Linea Alba to become softer and more likely to stretch.


This stretching can cause the two halves of the Rectus Abdominus to partially, or fully separate, which is normal and necessary for the abdominal area to expand to accommodate the growing baby.


Up to 90% of women at 36 weeks will have a degree of diastasis.


Occasionally, a weakness in the abdominal "core" area can predispose women to this issue.


Diastasis recti may cause a visible bulge in the middle of the abdomen where the two muscles separate. This "split" may be noticeable when the abdominal muscles are tense, such as when you move from lying down to sitting up.


Diastasis recti can often inhibit, and therefore weaken the abdominal muscles, which can often contribute to lower back pain.


It is often said that "Prevention is better than the cure"...and this is applicable here also, in that women can make an effort to maintain abdominal strength, before, during, and after pregnancy.


Posture is a primary area of focus, and can make a big difference with only a little effort.


Especially in the latter half of pregnancy, as the bumps grow, pregnant women tend to adapt a sway back posture, which can elongate and stretch the muscles and fascia on the front of the abdomen.

When these muscles become elongated, it can cause them to lose tension, and contribute to them stretching or splitting.

It is therefore important to address your posture during pregnancy.


Women should focus on improved posture, by aiming for a flat back - this can be achieved by "tucking" the pelvis or tailbone up - imagine you are wearing a belt on your jeans - you want to keep your belt buckle pointing straight ahead, not downwards - this position should help you avoid the sway back posture.


To accommodate the growing bump, and help reduce the pressure on your Linea Alba and Rectus Abdominus muscles, it is important to work your inner abdominal muscles, but we avoid exercises which increase the abdominal pressure, such as planks or crunches / sit ups.


Sitting straight up from a lying position can also build abdominal pressure, and should therefore be avoided as much as possible.

Women should attempt to roll on their side, and use their upper body to assist in sitting or standing, to relieve the internal pressure.


Post-partum, it is important to have your GP or physiotherapist assess for a diastasis recti, which, if present, can be addressed through some gentle abdominal activation exercises, and a progressing strengthe