My Experience with Diastasis Recti (Separation of the Abdominal Muscles) After Birth


By Alicia Barnes,

In a normal week I spend 6-8 hours in the gym, so when my stomach wasn’t getting to where I was happy with it, I knew something wasn’t right.

I kept hearing about diastasis recti, a separation between the abs, and wondered if I had it and tried the self check and I thought I did. There was a definite gap where there shouldn’t have been. I saw there were exercises and things you could buy online or that you could go to physical therapy for it, but I wasn’t sure if I had it or if I were just letting Dr. Google get to me.

So I ate better, and I still wasn’t happy.

Then I increased core and ab work outs, and I still wasn’t happy.

A year later, I showed my husband, and he agreed there seemed to be some separation as well. I was anxious to bring it up even to him. I was afraid to be told that I was imagining the problem. I didn’t want to look silly.

I really didn’t want to bring it up to my doctor to be lectured that I had a baby and this is what happens when you have a baby. The body changes, and you have to accept some of these changes. I didn’t want to seem vain.

It didn’t help that everywhere I saw all these post pregnancy body acceptance things where mothers showed their scars, stretch marks, and changed bodies with pride. I was afraid it looked like I loved my baby less because I didn’t love how my body was after carrying him.

After reading more on diastasis recti, I learned that it’s not only a cosmetic problem, and it tends to get worse with future pregnancies. The complications from it include back pain and and pelvic floor issues. I also learned that traditional exercises such as crunches and sit ups tend to make the problem worse instead of better. So this year during my annual wellness visit, I talked to my doctor who confirmed it wasn’t just in my head. I definitely had a gap.

The good news was it wasn’t a bad gap, and I had no other problems. I didn’t need surgery like some women do. My doctor suggested that it’d probably keep closing on its own if I kept up my active lifestyle, but when I asked for a physical therapy referral, she gave it to me because she understood that I wanted to get ahead of this before I was pregnant again.

The physical therapist was great. He assessed my core and the workouts I already do. He corrected my form on several so I was more properly engaging my core and gave me other workouts not only for my stomach but also for my hips to avoid hip pain in my future pregnancies like I had before.

No one made me feel bad for wanting my belly to look better. Instead they were all glad I was there before I had future babies and the problem got worse. I encourage any women who suspect whose bellies seem to be bulging more than they should to give themselves the diastasis recti self test. If you have a gap, you can work on it. It’s only been a few weeks in, and I can tell mine is already getting better.


Alicia lives in a small college town that often challenges her resolve to live as simply and as stress-free as possible. When she’s not working, rereading the same children’s books, cooking, or wondering how crunchy she’s become, she’s busy updating her site, You can follow her on facebook.