C-section recovery and diastasis recti can occur at the same time. Learn how to best speed up healing with these physical therapy tips.


how long should I wear a postpartum belly wrap

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C-section recovery and diastasis recti after pregnancy are two medical conditions that extend the road to recovery after childbirth. And this can increase the overall strain on a new mom’s body during postpartum recovery.

Both C-sections and diastasis recti can cause pain, discomfort and the lack of strength in the core which can make life as a mom feel exhausting in the early stages. Moms like you need extra care so that your recovery is the best possible recovery it can be.

Your job now is to be a mom; but let’s face it, it’s hard to be at your best when you feel your worst. To help you understand C-section recovery and diastasis recti better, thus helping you recover better, let’s dive into some of the top questions most moms have about this topic and how you can best get a handle on the healing process that’s ahead.

Can Having A C-Section Cause Diastasis Recti?

The big question most moms want to know is… can having a C-section cause diastasis recti?

The quick answer is yes, having a C-section can cause diastasis recti but it’s not as simple as a yes-no answer. There’s a lot more that’s involved in it.

First, it’s important to understand that the reason why so many new moms develop diastasis recti is because their abdominal muscles are stretched and the tissue between the right and the left side of the rectus abdominis is prone to separation.

What increases the likelihood of developing diastasis recti are multiple pregnancies, pregnancies with multiples (such as twins, triplets, etc) and C-sections.  

What Causes Diastasis Recti After C-Section?

You may be wondering why are you more likely to have diastasis recti after a C-section.

Knowing what happens during a C-section is important for you to understand why you may be more likely to develop diastasis recti after a C-section. This doctor explains it best here:

“Believe it or not, your ab muscles aren’t usually cut during a c-section. They are simply separated along the midline in order to access the uterus.
There is no other way to get your baby out without separating them.
After the baby is delivered and your uterus is sutured closed, some surgeons will then place a stitch in the muscles to put them back together. Some won’t.
Research has shown that stitching the muscles back together isn’t necessary.  And oftentimes – it’s actually not possible!” – Brittany N Robles, MD, MPH, CPT

How Do I Get Rid Of Diastasis Recti After C-Section?

The best way to get rid of diastasis recti after having a C-section is through specialized exercises, typically given to you from a physical therapist. When you are cleared to begin exercise, you can start with abdominal bracing as the best beginner core exercise for diastasis recti and post C-section. Learn how to do that exercise here.

But you definitely want to wait for your body to heal naturally on its own for the first 6 weeks after childbirth.

While you wait, definitely incorporate walking into your daily routine. It can be as short as a 5 minute walk a day to get some of your muscles to activate again in your core region. I recommend you focus on three areas:

  1. Walking
  2. Abdominal bracing
  3. Breathing exercises such as diaphragmatic breathing


How Do You Know If You Have Diastasis Recti After A C-Section?

One study found that up to 60 percent of women may experience diastasis recti during pregnancy or postpartum. So how do you know if you have it? 

If you are wondering if you have diastasis recti after experiencing a C-section, there’s an easy way to do a self test right now. Follow along with this video or continue reading this article to learn how to do a self test for diastasis recti.

To sum it up quickly, you first want to begin by lying down on the floor. Then put your fingers between the left and right side of your abdominal muscles. Feel for a gap in the middle of your stomach as you slowly lift your head off the floor.

You want to do this while keeping your feet on the floor and having your knees bent.

If you feel a bulge or a separation between the right and left side of your stomach, you most likely have diastasis recti. But be sure to follow along with this video to be sure.

Does A C-Section Weaken Abdominal Muscles?

A C-section most certainly does weaken the abdominal muscles and, therefore, it may take you longer to recover after a C-section delivery. But the weakness is not due to the cutting of the abdominal muscles but rather the separation of the abdominal muscles.

When you have a C-section, the physician creates an incision through five layers of skin, nerves, muscle and tissue,” Kohrherr says. Usually, the incision is horizontal, but in emergency situations, a vertical cut is used, she says.

There’s a common misconception that doctors cut through abdominal muscles when performing a C-section, but that’s not actually the case, Kohrherr says. They separate the midline of your abdominals to gain access to the uterus, but they don’t actually cut it.

Want to learn more about what actually goes on during a surgical procedure for a cesarean section? Watch this anatomy video that explains what actually takes place during a C-section.

When Can I Start Diastasis Recti Exercises?

It is completely up to your doctor to determine when you can begin exercise after having a C-section, but generally speaking it’s suggested to be around 6 weeks postpartum and sometimes up to 12 weeks postpartum. This is because it takes 6-12 weeks for your muscles to heal.

Every woman heals at a different rate and, therefore, it is up to your doctor to examine you before giving you the green light to proceed with postpartum exercises. Be sure to check with your doctor and get clearance after your exam before beginning postpartum exercise.

The First Diastasis Recti Postpartum Ab Exercise After A C-Section 

Did you just get clearance from your doctor to start exercising after having a C-section? And did your doctor diagnose you with diastasis recti? Don’t be afraid to start postpartum core exercises or post-pregnancy ab exercises.

I highly recommend making an appointment with a physical therapist, but if you are ready to do something right now, I recommend starting with abdominal bracing. Learn from me, a physical therapist, how you can perform abdominal bracing the correct way.

This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.

*It is important to always consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program and get medical clearance. Always warm up thoroughly and stretch after all workouts. LiveCoreStrong.com and Jena Bradley will be not be responsible or liable for any injury sustained while exercising at home, gym or elsewhere. Perform exercises at your own risk.

how long should I wear a postpartum belly wrap

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