How to Test for Diastasis Recti – during pregnancy

How to Test for Diastasis Recti – during pregnancy

In this test we place our fingers above the belly button since this is the largest point of pregnancy.  Diastasis recti commonly occurs above the belly button, although it can occur below the belly button as well.  Research has shown that 1/3 to 2/3 of pregnant women can have diastasis recti.[1][2]

*You should not do exercises that have you lying on your back for extended periods of time. Performing this self-test for 30 seconds will not harm your baby!

Watch the Pregnancy Core Tutorial.


What can happen as a result of your expanding belly is the rectus abdominis muscle can become distanced from the connective tissue in between. It is not harmful, but it creates gap in your rectus abdonimis muscles into a left and right side. These muscles can no longer contract effectively. If you have diastasis recti either during pregnancy or after pregnancy,  you should stay away from twisting motions, planks, quadruped positions, and crunches. Any movements that add additional stress to the tissues…like traditional planks, pushups or ball crunches.

Diastasis Recti is a medical condition and should be diagnosed by a doctor.  It can be grouped into 3 types, and depending on the severity, some cases can be healed with exercises modified for diastasis recti.  But during pregnancy, most likely, this condition will not better until after the intra-abdominal pressure (or baby) is out.  Post-baby the pressure on the tissues is relieved.


diastasis-recti-during-pregnancyMild Case – 2-3 fingerwidths

Moderate -3-4 fingerwidths

Severe – 4+ fingerwidths



Check your Posture

This condition can be accentuated by lordosis, or sway-back during pregnancy.  It is best to keep your hips stacked over your knees while standing.  The smallest of adjustments in the pelvis takes pressure off the linea alba (the tissue in between the two recti).

Stay away from traditional Ab Exercises

As I mentioned earlier, you should stay away from traditional ab exercises.  But it is important to connect with you transverse abdominis and inner core.  These are your core muscles that support the baby.  To activate these core muscles,  use our simple transverse abdominis activation, a safe core exercise for diastasis recti.

You should also use Prenatal Workouts that includes modifications for the ab separation.  Because going into positions like quadruped (on all fours) or a hinging at the hips during arm exercises, will add pressure to the tissues.  You can follow our Prenatal Workouts with diastasis recti modifications.

Will diastasis recti go away after my baby is born?

Sometimes the condition goes away after the baby pressure is gone.  But if it doesn’t it is best to stay away from traditional ab routines.  You will want to focus on movements that activate the transverse abdominis.  Check out the 8 Postpartum Ab Exercises that work the transverse abdominis.

See more about Postpartum Diastasis Recti.


[1] https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/early/2016/06/20/bjsports-2016-096065.full, accessed August 1 2016

[2] Boissonnault JS. Incidence of diastasis recti abdominis during the childbearing year. Phys Ther (1988).

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