I'm not just a PT, I'm also a parent!

I'm not just a PT, I'm also a parent!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Diastasis Recti

It's always an interesting juxtaposition when the Physical Therapist becomes the patient.  Since becoming a PT, I've had to undergo PT 3 times -- once for a severe ankle eversion sprain, once for pregnancy-related sciatica and diastasis of the pubic symphysis, and once for a partially torn rotator cuff.  I now find myself back in the position where I will have to undergo PT for diastasis recti.

I am currently pregnant and noticed that when I coughed one evening, only the upper left portion of my abdominals contracted.  Intrigued (and a bit freaked out), I asked my husband if he observed the same thing, or if my vantage point of my swollen belly from a supine position was the culprit.  Unfortunately, he observed the same thing.  A week or so later, my OB-Gyn confirmed my suspicion.

If you've never heard of diastasis recti, it occurs (often during pregnancy) when the vertical line dividing the left and right halves of the rectus abdominus muscle (AKA linea alba) splits and the two sides of the muscle separate.  Fortunately, this can be treated with an abdominal binder and physical therapy.  In more severe cases, the diastasis can herniate, causing the pregnant woman's uterus to push through the opening.  In these cases, postpartum surgery may be indicated to repair the tear.

from www.diastasisrecti.org

Since I am not yet in my third trimester, I just have to sit and wait and hope that nothing gets worse.  In the meantime, I am using good body mechanics, doing some simple exercises, wearing a belly support in an attempt to approximate the two sides of my rectus abdominus muscle as much as possible, and praying that I don't experience the joy of a herniation.  If a woman experiences a painful herniation, insurance should cover the surgical repair.  (unfortunately, they will most likely cover stitching the two sides together, not a tummy tuck -- darn!)

After baby comes, we'll have to see if I need surgery, or if I can just go to PT.  After performing extensive research, I decided that I want to use the Tupler Technique to help repair my diastasis.  I have the program on my Christmas wish list so that I can be ready to go right after baby comes in January!  I briefly considered becoming licensed, but realized that flying back and forth between California and New York is not feasible for me, especially in my present condition.

As my journey progresses, I will update my condition and how I have dealt with this.  I want to be able to help other women with diastasis recti make the best decisions they can regarding their wellness. 

** Update 9/13/12 **

I just received an email from Helene Byrne with BeFit-Mom.  She sent me this link to a fantastic resource: Diastasis Recti or Abdominal Separation.  Other than providing an overview of Diastasis Recti, this site includes a list of movements that should be avoided and videos of exercises that pregnant women can perform to lessen the severity of the condition.  I've been performing pilates-type transversus abdominus bracing exercises and pelvic tilts in supine, which are similar to the first 2 videos which show exercises in standing.  I will start the exercises in standing tonight!



  1. As a PT who has become a patient herself, do you think that the saying “Doctors make the worse patients” is spot on? :)

    Regardless, that is indeed a good resource. Knowing what movements to avoid will dramatically lessen the chances of the Abdominal Separation from becoming more pronounced.


    1. Gosh, I have no idea! I will say that I've been fairly non-compliant with my Tupler routine because having 4 kids keeps me busy! I also started working part-time last May, so I don't have as much time at home as I used to. At the end of the day when they're all in bed, I'm too exhausted to do anything. Maybe mothers make the worst patients?