How to Prevent Diastasis Recti: Core Exercises to Strengthen Connective Tissue

How to Prevent Diastasis Recti: Core Exercises to Strengthen Connective Tissue

If you’re having a baby, you probably know about diastasis recti.

It’s the natural separation of the abdominal muscles that allows your belly to expand and your baby to grow.

Diastasis recti is not only common in pregnancy, it’s actually expected. Our wonderful bodies are made to stretch and create a safe space for our baby to develop. Abdominal separation occurs in 100% of pregnant women, regardless of fitness level, baby size, number of pregnancies, or weight.

How beautiful it is that our bodies know exactly how to respond to the ever-changing needs of pregnancy.

That said, some moms may experience more severe stretching of their connective tissue during pregnancy. In this case, the connective tissue that holds your abs together may struggle to close during postpartum.

This isn’t abnormal, but it is preventable.

Let’s explore powerful tools and lifestyle hacks you can use to prevent diastasis recti and build a rock-solid core that supports you during pregnancy, labor, and postpartum.

Recognizing Functional Diastasis Recti vs. Injury-Based Diastasis Recti

At The Bloom Method, we like to separate diastasis recti into two categories:

Functional diastasis recti and injury-based diastasis recti.

The natural separation of your core muscles during pregnancy is called functional diastasis recti. It’s characterized by a healthy gap held together by strong connective tissue (called the linea alba). This normal separation heals easily and closes within six to twelve weeks after birth.

When the connective tissue between your abdominal muscles is weakened, we call this injury-based diastasis recti. It’s commonly caused by a lack of intra-abdominal pressure and low awareness of core posture during everyday movement. Women who experience this may notice doming in their bellies and struggle with core weakness.

In these cases, diastasis recti struggles to resolve on its own after pregnancy and may require physical therapy or targeted exercises to close.

Remember, diastasis recti of any kind isn’t a “pregnancy pouch” or “belly bulge” that you should be ashamed of. It has nothing to do with your exercise routine, weight, or value as a mom. It’s a natural and common occurrence that simply needs extra attention and healing support.

How to Prevent Diastasis Recti and Build a Rock-Solid Core

You can start diastasis recti exercises at any time during your pregnancy. It’s never too late to begin. Of course, the goal of these exercises and intentional movements isn’t just to prevent long-term diastasis recti. You’ll also build a stable core that can meet the increased physical demands of pregnancy and motherhood.

      1. Limit Coning and Doming in Your Belly

Belly doming is a visual representation of stress on your connective tissue. If you’re not sure how to recognize doming and coning, we have a video all about it:

Watch for signs of doming and coning when you laugh, cough, get out of bed, and get into the car. And practice regulating this intra-abdominal pressure when you can.

Let’s face it, doming is probably going to happen during pregnancy. Just be aware of it and try to limit it when possible. Repetitive doming is often what weakens the linea alba.

        2. Use Studio Bloom’s “Lift and Wrap” Technique

To counteract daily pressure on your connective tissue, we encourage diastasis recti exercises that use our “lift and wrap” technique. To begin, lift all sections of your pelvic floor. Then wrap your transverse abdominal muscle (TVA) from the top of your hips to the bottom of your ribcage — all while engaging fully around the torso.

This movement takes practice, but it’s essential to regulating transabdominal pressure and protecting your connective tissue. With The Bloom Method, you’ll learn to “lift and wrap” for many pregnancy exercises. You’ll also notice less doming and coning when you use this method.

         3. Repattern Your Breathing

Diaphragmatic breathing involves breathing deep through your belly, rather than your chest. It’s one of the best ways to regulate transabdominal pressure and keep stress off the linea alba.

This breathing technique also keeps your lymphatic system moving, improves digestion, and can regulate your nervous system. Not to mention, it’s a fantastic tool for pain regulation at birth.

You’ll need to devote time (a few minutes throughout the day) to repattern your breathing and transition to breathing diaphragmatically. Once you’re an expert, you’ll pair your breathing with core engagement during diastasis recti exercises and everyday movements.

         4. Address Posture and Balance

Your center of gravity actually changes during pregnancy — which means maintaining a healthy posture is challenging. Intentionality, mindfulness, and daily practice are all tools you can use to improve balance and adjust to these changes.

Check in with your posture daily and keep low back arching and rib thrusting to a minimum. This will keep pressure off your connective tissue. Through heightened awareness of your core, you can maintain good posture and balance throughout your pregnancy and into motherhood.

         5. Practice Positive Self-Talk

Sure, things can go wrong in pregnancy. Maybe you’re aware of extra pressure on your connective tissue or are struggling to bring awareness to your core. But this doesn’t discount all the things your body is doing right.

Diastasis recti is one of many modifications your body uses to support healthy growth and development for your baby. You deserve to fully appreciate how wonderful and incredible this season of life is.

Positive self-talk is important for maintaining stress levels, relaxing tight muscles, and regulating your nervous system. If you're struggling with a diastasis recti exercise, tell yourself, “I’m doing better than I think.” And, “My core is engaged and regulated.” Gently guide your body to the right movement by engaging your mind.

        6. Engage Your Core Intentionally and When Necessary

Engaging your core at the right time is essential to protecting your body from injury-based diastasis recti. As we mentioned, Studio Bloom’s “lift and wrap” technique can help you engage necessary muscles while regulating pressure.

But this doesn’t mean that you need to keep your core braced and engaged all day. In fact, we want you to steer clear from this and breathe diaphragmatically instead — using your core only when necessary. Most of the day, you can let go and be relaxed. Just be aware of those times when your core does need to be activated (during workouts, bending over, getting out of bed, etc.).

Learn to engage your core correctly to protect the connective tissue — during both pregnancy and early postpartum. If you do this, you can drastically reduce your chances of a diastasis recti injury, as well as pelvic floor issues and prolapse.

        7. Practice Safe Diastasis Recti Exercises Throughout Pregnancy

Exercise is one of the best things you can do to prevent diastasis recti. Intentional strength-building movement helps prepare your body for successful labor and vibrant postpartum.

However, the type of diastasis recti exercises you engage in matters. Quick fixes and exercises that stress the belly without encouraging safe posture, diaphragmatic breathing, and core engagement should be avoided.

         8. Eat Foods That Build Healthy Connective Tissue

Remember, your stretchy connective tissue (the linea alba) connects your ab muscles. This tissue is always present — even before pregnancy. It’s just working a little harder during pregnancy and postpartum.

Almost any healthy diet can include foods that fortify connective tissue. Nuts, legumes, wild-caught fish, collagen, grass-fed beef, gelatin, amino acid supplements, bone broth, berries, ancestral grains, cinnamon, and seeds are all powerful sources of omega-3 fatty acids or amino acids. Include these in your diet to provide nourishment and build strength in your linea alba and other connective tissue.

The Bottom Line: It’s Never Too Late to Begin Diastasis Recti Prevention

You may be wondering if it’s too late to begin diastasis recti prevention.

Maybe you’ve noticed doming and coning along your midline.

Or, you’re well into the third trimester and preparing for birth.

It’s never too late to start building awareness in your core and strengthening your connective tissue.

Commit to noticing doming and coning before it happens. From now on, activate your pelvic floor, regulate abdominal pressure, and do diastasis recti exercises when you can. These tools will serve you now, during birth, and into postpartum.

You may need rehabilitation for diastasis recti during postpartum (many moms do!).

But this doesn’t mean your core can’t return to normal.

It can. Likely, much faster than you realize.

Learn Diastasis Recti Prevention Exercises with One of Our Signature Core Programs

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