Short answer – you can’t. A lot of misinformation floats around on the internet about programs that can prevent diastasis recti. Don’t be fooled. Here are the facts:
1. If you carry your baby to full-term, you will have a diastasis. Period. Your body has to stretch to allow room for baby to grow. So, you aren’t broken or problematic if you have a diastasis.
2. You can exacerbate a diastasis by putting undue pressure on your linea alba. Your linea alba is the line of tissue down the middle of your belly that separates your abs. This is the tissue that gets stretched in pregnancy and when you force a lot of intra-abdominal pressure into that already stressed tissue, you can for sure weaken it more. Things like breath-holding, heavy overhead movements or lifts or improper core work can all contribute to putting pressure on that tissue.
3. A diastasis can become problematic when it doesn’t heal properly postpartum. Just like any other major bodily injury, you need to take time to help your core and pelvic floor rehab after pregnancy and delivery. This is a step that is often overlooked. Some women have less of a problem with a diastasis because of genetics, but many women won’t heal on their own and this is when intentional work goes a long way towards helping you heal.
4. It’s not about the gap. Many women get caught up in how many finger-widths their gap is and trying to “close the gap”. While that used to be the prevailing theory on healing a diastasis, we now know that it’s more about the tension you can generate in that tissue than in getting the gap to close. And how do you strengthen tissue? By strengthening the muscles around it!
Having a diastasis doesn’t doom you to having poor ab function forever. It also doesn’t mean that your only option for fixing it is surgery. There is a lot that can be done to help heal a diastasis with proper breathing, posture, and core and pelvic floor exercise. Notice the word “proper” there – find a perinatal fitness specialist, like me, to help you!