Diastasis is the separation of the main tummy muscle through the centre. Although almost 100% of the women in their thrid trimester will have it, diastasis soon reduces in the next 4-6 weeks post child birth. Even so about 50% of the women can end up with it 4-6 post partum and about 38% can end up with it 12 months after child birth. These percentages do however depend on the age of the mum. It seems that older mums seem to get affected more. So you can say that it is pretty common. But unfortunately not many women are able to tell that they have it. It’s probably because diastasis is not an actual “injury” to the muscle. It’s a separation but it has other effects on a woman’s body that can help determine that it is diastasis in order to do the right treatment for it. What’s good is that you can self identify these signs and do a simple test to diagnose yourself. And then see your GP or Physio to progress with treatment. So here are a few tell tale signs that you have diastasis post pregnancy.

A belly pooch is a strong indicator of diastasis

diastasis signs and symptoms

Have you been trying to lose weight post pregnancy and can’t seem to get rid of that little “pooch” in your lower tummy area? Do you feel that your tummy sags and your current exercise routine is not helping it? There’s a big chance that you have diastasis. This is because the tummy or abdominal muscles get stretched to their maximum limit during pergnancy. And this weakens the muscles and causes it to lose it tone. This can create a pouch in the lower tummy area which doesn’t seem to go away even after you’ve lost your pregnancy weight. For a lot of women this can end up affecting their mental health due to a negative body image. Also there’s so much pressure on women to get back to their pre baby weight whcih can further add stress . So if you have noticed a belly pooch , it’s likely diastasis.

A palpable gap in the midsection is another tell tale sign of diastasis

If you have diastasis recti, you would be able to insert the top of your fingers in the gap between the bulk of the muscle that has separated. Most commonly the gap tends to be more pronounced just above and below the belly button. But in some severe cases it can extend all the way up to under the tip of the breast bone. It’s a self diagnostic test that you can do yourself. Here’s a link to the video where you can watch the test.

This would be a sure shot sign that you need to see a Physiotherapist immediately to start your journey to getting stronger and recover!

Persistent lower back pain that is not getting better

woman with lower back pain

A lot of new mums probably consider it “normal” to have some back pain post pregnancy not just because of the stresses of child birth but also just looking after their new born. Back pain usually should subside over the next 4-6 weeks post child birth. But if you’re continuing to have back stiffness or soreness (even minor), it’s a strong indicator that something’s not right. Either the joints are inflamed or the muscles are so weak that they are unable to support the joints. Diastasis is a major cause of muscle weakness. It’s because the tummy muscles play such an important part in supporting your lower back that any weakness can certainly start causing pain and inflammation. I know as a mum you’re probably thinking about yourself last. But it’s just so important to get treated on time to prevent the back pain due to diastasis from worsening.

Pelvic floor weakness or urinary incontinence

I must mention here that pelvic floor weakness or a weak bladder is not a direct consequence of diastasis but it’s important to note that a large population of the women will suffer from both diastasis and pelvic floor weakness together. This is definitely due to the undue stresses of pregnancy and child birth on both the abdominal and pelvic floor muscles. There can be leakage with straining /coughing/sneezing or there can be urinary frequency and urgency. You can also feel inability to control, like you just have to go when you have to go. All of these are signs of pelvic floor weakness which a lot of women think as “normal” post child birth especially with multiple kids. But you need to understand that these are all abnormal symptoms and signs. With the right program for abdominal strengthening diastasis can be treated. Likewise with a graded low intensity program, pelvic floor msucles can be strengthened. It’s really important to find the right woemn’s health physiotherapist who has experience treating these conditions.