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What Is Diastasis Recti
Jul 2017
Dr Vimee Bindra
Consultant Gynaecologist, Laproscopic Surgeon & Infertility Specialist, Apollo Health City, Hyderaba

You may have noticed a condition whereby a pregnant lady still looks pregnant, even after her delivery! A condition called diastasis recti can be blamed for this. Diastasis recti is the separation of the abdominal muscles whereby, there is a gap in between the rectus muscles on either side of the midline of the abdomen. It is very commonly seen in pregnant women as almost two-thirds of women experience this condition during pregnancy.

This condition is very common due to the growing uterus and repeated pregnancies. It also depends on the type of tissues one has. The name of the muscle on either side of the abdomen from the midline is called ‘rectus abdominis’ and the literal meaning of diastasis is ‘separation.’ Hence, the term has been coined ‘diastasis recti’ meaning separation of the rectus muscle.

The Causes
This condition is quite common due to repeated pregnancies, increased age of the woman, twin pregnancy and a big baby (during pregnancy). However, it is mostly common in women with some connective tissue disorders.

When this separation of muscles happens, the uterus, bowels and other organs have a very thin band of connective tissue to support them. If this band is also not there, it gives rise to a condition called ‘hernia’ whereby the protrusion of abdominal organs can occur due to the defect. In most cases, this separation reduces after delivery, but in some cases, it may persist even after the delivery and women continue to look pregnant, though they have delivered the baby.

How It Occurs
During pregnancy as the uterus grows and due to hormonal changes, the thin band of connective tissue which holds abdominal muscles together, tends to get thin. It’s a natural mechanism to accommodate the growing uterus and after delivery, in the post-partum period, when hormones get back to normal, this thinning also tries to recover and diastasis also recovers, but in some cases, it does not come back to normal because of the overstretching of connective tissues. For example, an overstretched balloon never comes back to normal after it is deflated.