daniel-thomas-_tYNzEqehMk-unsplash-scaled-e1666295347863-2048x691 (1)


Bringing a new baby into the world is a joyful experience, but it often brings significant changes to a woman's body and it can be hard to find the correct advice out there.

This week, Holly from Basking Babies Northallerton, Ripon & Thirsk caught up with Orla O Regan, Owner of Ripon Physio Co and The Pelvic Hub to bring you advice on one of the common changes that women go through during pregnancy.  

What is a common change women go through during pregnancy?

This common change is diastasis recti, where the abdominal muscles separate during pregnancy. As a pelvic physiotherapist specialising in assessing and treating diastasis recti, I am committed to helping women through their postpartum recovery with customised exercises and rehabilitation programs. This blog will explain what diastasis recti is, why addressing it is important, and how pelvic physiotherapy can make a significant difference in a woman's postpartum journey.


What is diastasis recti?

Diastasis recti is characterised by the separation of the rectus abdominis muscles, commonly called the "six-pack" muscles. During pregnancy, the growing uterus stretches the muscles of the abdomen, sometimes causing them to separate along the midline of the stomach. This separation can result in a noticeable bulge or pooch in the abdomen, which may persist postpartum if not properly addressed. 

The condition is relatively common, affecting approximately two-thirds of pregnant women. While it can occur in anyone, certain factors such as multiple pregnancies, carrying multiples, or having a higher birth weight baby can increase the likelihood of someone developing diastasis recti.

Why is it important to address diastasis recti?

Ignoring diastasis recti can lead to a range of physical issues, including back pain, poor posture, pelvic floor dysfunction, and even hernias. Beyond physical discomfort, the condition can also impact a woman's confidence and body image. Therefore, addressing diastasis recti is crucial for both physical health and emotional well-being. 

What is the role of a pelvic physiotherapist? 

As a pelvic physiotherapist, my goal is to provide in-depth comprehensive care that helps women regain their strength and functionality after childbirth. Here's how my expertise can make a significant difference in managing diastasis recti:

Thorough assessment 

The first step in addressing diastasis recti is a thorough assessment. This involves evaluating the extent of muscle separation, checking for any associated pelvic floor dysfunction, and understanding your specific symptoms and concerns. This comprehensive assessment allows for the creation of a personalised treatment plan tailored to the unique needs of each woman.

Tailored exercise programs

Exercise is a key component in the treatment of diastasis recti. However, not all exercises are suitable for this condition. Some traditional abdominal exercises can actually exacerbate the problem. As a pelvic physiotherapist, I design safe and effective exercise programs that focus on strengthening the deep core muscles, including the transverse abdominis and the pelvic floor. These exercises help to bring the separated muscles back together and restore core stability.

Education and guidance

Education is empowering. I provide my clients with detailed information about their condition, explaining how specific exercises and lifestyle modifications can support their recovery. This guidance includes advice on proper posture, safe lifting techniques, and avoiding activities that may strain the abdominal muscles.

Regular check-ins

Recovery from diastasis recti is a gradual process that requires ongoing support. Regular check-ins allow me to monitor progress, adjust exercise programs as needed, and address any new concerns that may arise. This continuous support ensures that my clients stay on track with their recovery and achieve the best possible outcomes.

How can pelvic physiotherapy help you post-partum?

Understanding the benefits of pelvic physiotherapy can emphasise why seeking this specialised care is a wise choice for postpartum women.

Restoring core strength

Pregnancy can significantly weaken the core muscles, affecting overall strength and stability. Pelvic physiotherapy focuses on rebuilding core strength, which is essential for daily activities and overall physical health. A strong core also supports the spine, reducing the risk of back pain and improving posture.

Preventing and managing pelvic floor dysfunction

The pelvic floor muscles often endure significant strain during pregnancy and childbirth. Weak pelvic floor muscles can lead to issues such as incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse. Through targeted exercises, pelvic physiotherapy strengthens these muscles, enhancing bladder control and pelvic support.

Reducing pain and discomfort

Many women experience back pain, pelvic pain, and other discomforts postpartum. These issues are often related to weakened core and pelvic muscles. By addressing diastasis recti and strengthening the core, pelvic physiotherapy can alleviate these pains, promoting a more comfortable and active lifestyle.

Enhancing body confidence

Physical changes postpartum can affect a woman's body image and self-esteem. Effective treatment of diastasis recti can improve the appearance of the abdomen, helping women feel more confident in their bodies. This boost in confidence can have a positive impact on mental health and overall well-being. 

A holistic approach to postpartum recovery

Pelvic physiotherapy is more than just physical recovery; it's about empowering women to regain their health and vitality after childbirth. By addressing issues like diastasis recti and other postpartum concerns, pelvic physiotherapists provide comprehensive care that supports both the body and mind. This holistic approach ensures that women can fully enjoy their postpartum journey, equipped with the knowledge and strength to thrive.

How long does it take to regain strength?

It can take between 6 months to 1 year to regain strength and return to running, for example. It is not an overnight change that people may think.

In conclusion, diastasis recti is a common but manageable condition that can significantly impact a woman's postpartum experience. As a pelvic physiotherapist, I am committed to helping women overcome this challenge through personalised care, targeted exercises, and ongoing support. By prioritising pelvic health and core strength, women can achieve a smoother recovery, enhanced physical well-being, and greater confidence in their postpartum bodies.

If you are struggling with diastasis recti, consider seeking the expertise of a pelvic physiotherapist to guide you on your path to recovery.

Your recovery and happiness are worth it.


About the author


Orla O Regan

Orla is physiotherapist who specialises in the assessment and treatment of diastasis recti for women. Orla runs Ripon Physio Co, a private physiotherapy clinic that combines personalised in-clinic care with comprehensive online services, specifically tailored for women navigating the postpartum period.