Diastasis Recti Exercises to Stabilize and Strengthen Your Core After Pregnancy

Diastasis Recti Exercises to Stabilize and Strengthen Your Core After Pregnancy

You may have heard that preventing abdominal separation altogether is key to avoiding diastasis recti.

This is common misinformation.

Separation of your ab muscles is normal and healthy during pregnancy.

Actually, it’s expected.

Your brilliant body creates space for your baby to grow by stretching the linea alba (the connective tissue that holds your abs in place). Diastasis recti during pregnancy is as natural as belly growth and your missing period.

Like any adaptation, though, diastasis recti can have its complications.

At times, the delicate connective tissue between your abs can be stressed or injured. 

If this happens, the gap may not close on its own after birth — and will need focused core exercises to encourage healing.

This is natural and common, too. Many women aren’t taught how to adjust their everyday movements to protect their connective tissue.

The good news is, your diastasis recti isn’t beyond healing.

Your body is on your side — and with the right tools and movements, the gap between your abs is almost always repairable.

These diastasis recti exercises can help you close your natural gap faster or improve a long-term connective tissue injury that won’t go away.

What to Know Before Beginning Diastasis Recti Exercises 

Let’s correct some misconceptions about diastasis recti from pregnancy:

  • Targeted core exercises are only a small part of your healing journey — and should be paired with foundational movements.
  • Diastasis recti exercises are a form of self-care. This is an opportunity for you to connect with your body and thank it for supporting you through pregnancy. These exercises should never be painful, overly challenging, or viewed as a punishment.
  • The more you connect your mind with your core, the better. These diastasis recti exercises are meant to build awareness between your breath, body, and mind. The more awareness you build in your body, the better.
  • Use a variety of exercises, not just one. It’s common for trainers to recommend just one or two targeted exercises to heal diastasis recti. But this really isn’t the optimal route. Diastasis recti exercises should address muscles, balance, strength, functionality, and breath connection. This is why a program with a variety of exercises is more helpful.

You Don’t Have to Wait Six Weeks to Begin Diastasis Recti Exercises

No, you shouldn’t start doing crunches or medicine ball exercises the day after giving birth. But you also shouldn’t stop moving altogether. We encourage new moms to start gentle, breath-focused exercises on their first day of postpartum healing.

Connecting with your diaphragmatic breath is essential for positive daily movement, nervous system regulation, and pressure regulation in your abdomen. These are key elements to preventing or healing diastasis recti.

Protect Your Connective Tissue

Don’t underestimate intentional daily movement in early postpartum. The way you activate your core when picking up your baby or getting out of bed has a powerful impact on connective tissue health. Learning to move intentionally should dramatically decrease your chances of injury-based diastasis recti.

Minimize Doming and Coning

When you tilt forward, do you notice a slight bulge across your midline? This is your connective tissue stretching to fill the gap between your abdominal muscles. It’s otherwise known as doming or coning.

While this will happen sometimes during postpartum, we recommend avoiding it when possible. If you notice doming, activate your core and practice our “lift and wrap” method. This should help protect your connective tissue.

Prioritize Self-Care

Diastasis recti exercises are a form of postpartum self-care. They’re not just about returning to your pre-pregnancy body — they’re about building a strong and functional core that allows you to give the best to your baby.

The diastasis recti exercises you begin today set you up for an energized and balanced postpartum season. They help you avoid injury, be more active, and experience life with your newborn to the fullest.

The Best Diastasis Recti Exercises

Healing diastasis recti isn’t about punishing yourself with difficult exercises or pushing your body to the limit. It’s about finding joy and relaxation in movement — and building a rock-solid foundation that improves your postpartum experience.

Here are some diastasis recti exercises you can use to promote faster healing and gently close the gap between your abdominal muscles.

  • Intentional Diaphragmatic Breathwork

You don’t heal diastasis recti by shoving your ab muscles back together with forceful exercises. It’s about regulating intraadominal pressure to reduce stress on connective tissue.

One of the most effective ways to do this is through diaphragmatic breathwork. Breathing deep into your diaphragm helps to regulate that abdominal pressure — and it’s one of the most crucial elements to building a strong and functional core.

Since breathwork is calming for the mind and gentle on the body, we recommend starting it immediately after giving birth. As early as day one.

  1. Build a connection between your mind and core.
  2. Breathe deeply through your diaphragm.
  3. Put your hands on your belly to notice and guide abdominal pressure.
  • Seated Core Lean Back

This is a powerful core-building exercise that allows you to work at your own pace. The more you lean back, the more you work your abdominal muscles.

  1. Sit with your feet on the floor with your knees bent, arms stretched out in front of you.
  2. Gently lean back until you feel your core engage.
  3. Hold the position for up to a minute. A slight core shake is a good indication you’re doing this exercise right.
  • Side Plank + Clamshell

This popular pilates move helps build endurance and balance. It’s easy to modify and can slowly draw awareness to your pelvic floor and abdominal muscles.

  1. Position yourself on your side. Bend your knees and prop your upper body up on one elbow. Your stabilizing arm should reach straight out in front of you.
  2. Gently engage your hips and glutes, and raise your body off the ground. Maintain square shoulders.
  3. Hold this position for a few seconds. Add in a clamshell movement with your knees if desired.
  • Single Leg Balance with Movement

These single leg exercises improve balance, strengthen hip flexors, and build awareness in the core. Easy to do at home, the single leg balance can help you regain everyday movement and endurance after birth.

  1. Stand tall, and square your hips and shoulders.
  2. Gently lift your left leg, bringing your heel up behind you. You can grab your heel with your left hand if needed.
  3. Stretch out your right arm for added stability. Hold the position for up to a minute.
  • Ab Wraps

This exercise combines core engagement and breathwork. It may seem simple at first,  but it’s critical to healing diastasis recti. I’ve used it with hundreds of clients to close persistent gaps between the abdominal muscles. Make sure to take your time with this exercise, really engaging with your pelvic floor and connecting with your breath.

  1. Lay flat on the floor with your hands on your lower abdomen, above the hip bones.
  2. Take a deep inhale then exhale with your core engaged.
  3. Lift through the pelvic floor. Hold the connection and take a small inhale through the chest.
  4. Exhale again and bring your hands to mid-torso. Add core connection by wrapping the transverse abdominis (low-abdomen and mid-abdomen are now engaged).
  5. Once the entire torso is engaged, begin moving up and down the torso, wrapping the transverse abdominis each time.
  • Glute Bridges

This gentle exercise works the glutes and the transverse abdominis muscles, without putting too much pressure on your postpartum body.

  1. Lay on your back with your feet firmly planted on the floor. 
  2. As you breathe, squeeze and raise your glutes.
  3. Add an exercise ball and arm movement to support and challenge your exercise.
  • Spinal Balances

This exercise focuses on full-body strength and balance at the same time. It helps build up your core muscles while protecting your connective tissue. It’s easy to modify, too. Just bring your leg and arm as close together as possible while engaging your muscles.

  1. From a tabletop position, stretch your left arm out in front of you.
  2. At the same time, stretch your right leg fully behind you.
  3. Bring both arm and leg together at your core and engage.

The Bottom Line: Diastasis Recti Exercises Should Always Be Combined with Intentional Movement and Breathwork

If you’re afraid of diastasis recti from pregnancy, you shouldn’t be.

Whether your gap is functional or injury-based, it’s a common and natural experience.

We know there’s a lot of newness in your body right now — and it’s okay to create space for that.

But with the right tools and intentional diastasis recti exercises, you can build your core back stronger than ever before.

Remember, a dysfunctional core isn’t a guaranteed outcome of pregnancy.

Instead, pregnancy is an opportunity to connect with your body on a deeper level.

This is your time to see how powerful that new connection becomes.

Get at Home Diastasis Recti Exercises — Our Signature Healing Program

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