Separated Muscles

Now that your belly is growing bigger, you are probably becoming more and more excited about your baby’s arrival! But you may also be finding that the added weight of baby is taking its toll on your own physical wellbeing. Many women find that, as the months pass by, they become more tired, fatigued, and prone to pregnancy symptoms, like back pain and Braxton Hicks contractions. If you have been exploring your pregnant stomach lately, you may also have noticed a strange bump or separation in your stomach muscles. Separation of the stomach muscles is very common during pregnancy, particularly during the later trimesters.

Are Separated Muscles Dangerous? Learn how to Repair Separated Stomach Muscles in Pregnancy

What are Separated Muscles?
During pregnancy, many women experience a separation of their stomach muscles. Known as diastasis recti, this condition occurs when the main abdominal muscles (called the rectus abdominus) begin to pull apart. The left and right sides of this muscle separate, leaving a gap in between. Separated muscles do not tear or rupture, so little pain is involved, at least initially. Instead, the muscles thin out, creating a space in the abdomen. This gap can get worse over time and may result in future health complications.

What Causes Separated Muscles?
The rectus abdominus is kept in line by your transverse abs (the girdle like muscles that help keep your stomach flat) and your oblique abs (the muscles around your sides). During pregnancy, your abdominal muscles are tend to separate due to the growth of your baby in your uterus. This growth exerts pressure on the rectus abdominus muscles, causing them to split. Women who experience rapid growth of their stomachs during pregnancy are more likely to suffer from separated abdominal muscles. Women with particularly weak abdominal muscles may also end up with a split between the left and right side of the rectus abdominus.

How Common are Separated Muscles?
Separated muscles are actually fairly common during pregnancy. About one-third of all pregnant women experience separated muscles at some point throughout their pregnancy. Separation of the stomach muscles is more likely to occur during the second trimester or third trimester of pregnancy. However, separation also frequently occurs during labor and delivery.

Who’s At Risk for Separated Muscles?
Every pregnant woman is at risk for developing separated abdominal muscles during pregnancy. However, some women are more at risk for developing this condition. The condition appears to have some type of genetic link, so if your mother or sister suffered from separated muscles, your risk also increases. Other risk factors include:

 

  • previous pregnancy causing separated muscles
  • multiple pregnancy
  • being overweight or obese

 

Symptoms of Separated Muscles
Separation of the abdominal muscles is typically painless but there are a few symptoms that will help you to identify the condition. These include:

 

  • a gap or space just below your navel
  • a bump or ridge running from your breastbone down to your navel

 

Complications Associated with Separated Muscles
If you are suffering from separated muscles during pregnancy or in the postpartum period, it is important to take steps to encourage your muscles to reattach. It is unlikely that these muscles will reattach on their own and they may actually continue to separate after you have given birth. If left untreated, separated muscles can cause health complications, including:

 

  • Chronic lower back pain (due to the fact that the abdominal muscles help to support your back and spinal column)
  • Altered posture due to weak abdominal muscles (which in turn weakens your back muscles, leading to back pain)

 

 

Read on to learn more about how to check for separated muscles and how to treat separated muscles.

 

 

Find more advice on safe pregnancy exercises in the forum

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darnae22
Maceyratbags and Arcane1977, I was in tears reading your comments because you ladies put my feelings into words! I\'ve been feeling so alone in this whole and feeling like no one believes. They haven\'t seen any spinal issues on xray/mri so they have pretty much written me off. But I have the same problems you all are experiencing: upper and lower back pain, difficulty lifting, difficulty picking up and playing with my children....I have a 4 month old and that\'s particularly hard for me. I don\'t know who else to turn to. Maceyratbags, what is corrective surgery on the NHS and does insurance pay for it? What type of physician referred you for it? I pray that I find some help on this blog...I\'m totally at wits end and I hate feelings like I can give my 3 children or even MYSELF my very best....
3 years ago
maceyratbags
I've had three pregnancies in five years, the last one 11 months ago and dispite excercising, eating sensibly, my stomach looks like I'm pregnant again. My doctor felt around and said my uterus is inflamed and resembles a 4 month pregnancy so I have to go for a scan to check for fybroids, growths etc. That aside, she also found that my muscles are so damaged that if I were to do 1000 sit ups every night for a month it wouldnt make the slightest of difference. I'm having back pain regularly, and taking into account that my confidence is at an alltime low due to my 'bump' she has put me forward for corrective surgery on the NHS to pull the muscles back together. I'd never even heard of this before.
3 years ago
Arcane1977
So how do you fix this? What happens when you have a separation of up to 6cm plus a hernia (all due to pregnancy)? That's practically post birth measurements. I'm two and a half years after my second baby. I'm suffering so badly now, my lower and mid back is always sore, my posture has changed where I'm more bent over. I feel like my bent posture has affected my stomach area, it feels squashed. My digestion has changed, I feel like my stomach has dropped or something, I also can't tell when I'm full so I have been eating more and now putting on weight that can't lose as I can't exercise much. My whole stomach area feels like it's falling out. I can't carry the kids as my cote strength has gone, can't let the kids near me when I'm sitting as they lo r to bounce around on my lap. The little one hopped on my lap once and put his elbow into my stomach into my umbilical hernia and the pain was horrendous! So if it is known that someone who has this issue can have cronic problems shown in the above symptoms, why isn't there any help through Medicare to get the muscles fixed? I'm feeling so crippled and always in pain. I can't carry my baby or play with my 6 year old for long, I struggle with heavy things like groceries and laundry. I'm contemplating starvation to lose my weight as I can't lose the tummy fat I have been to my GP and no one cares, it's like "you're not dying so too bad". So what am I supposed to do? Wear a brace for my posture and load up on pain meds forever? I feel totally crippled and not how I should be. What are the alternatives? Plastic surgery I can't afford? Anyone have $15k?
3 years ago
2nd trimester
my friend got separated muscles during her pregnancy and then she made them worse after the pregnancy by doing the wrong type of stomach exercises after giving birth. she was such a mess for like a year. her doctor said she should have waited a month before doing such exercises. now her stomach is a mess and she says it has even affect her bladder and somehow pushed it down. i don't know much about that but i'm definitely going to make sure i do the right exercises after i give birth.
3 years ago

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