Preventing Diastasis Recti?

Fiancé & I are discussing when to have kids. What factors, esp age, affect the likelihood of diastasis recti? Im 5'1, & very fit. Im 25 now & I don't want a baby after 35, so the 25-35 gap concerns me. Genetically, mom says she looked great after 2 kids but her 3rd did her tummy in. I know once its happened, surgery is the only option, but what about prevention? Can exercise before & during pregnancy help? Obv the diff between 18- 40 is huge but what about the 25-35 gap, & even the 25-30 gap?

Doctor Answers 12

Preventing Diastasis Recti during Pregnancy

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

I have to honestly tell you that I know of no studies that suggest that anything other than pregnancy avoidance can prevent diastasis recti. 

The first or second or third pregnancy is often the culprit for a woman who experiences a diastasis recti. You can ask any of my Cleveland area abdominoplasty patients who told me that they gained minimal weight and still need and want an abdominoplasty after even a single pregnancy. 
I am sorry to tell you that the only thing one can do is plan and enjoy your beautiful children to the degree that you and your spouse wish to have children and, thereafter, know that the technology exists to make you very happy with your abdominal contours as long as you accept a low suprapubic scar in Victoria’s Secret territory.

Appropriate weight maintenance and exercise is a great lifestyle choice but I counsel you against trying to be on too restrictive a diet.  Of course, even women with eating disorders have children, as the baby is a nearly perfect parasite; but your gynecologist will counsel you about how to maintain your weight appropriately and still have the lowest risks of peri-natal problems from too much weight restriction during pregnancy.  I don’t favor weight restriction during pregnancy except to keep it reasonable.

Lastly, stretch marks can arise from even a moderate pregnancy on any size patient.  So, often a woman chooses to have an abdominoplasty not necessarily because of the diastasis recti but rather the presence of stretch marks that occurred despite her very best efforts. 

To your health and beauty,

Dr. Paul Vanek, Board Certified Plastic Surgeon near Cleveland, OH

Cleveland Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 34 reviews


{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

This is hard to prevent but not gaining any more than fifteen pounds with the pregnancy will certainly lower the chances.

Norman Bakshandeh, MD, FACS
New York Plastic Surgeon

Can't Prevent Muscle Stretch

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

Unfortunately there are no ways to prevent stretching of your muscles before, during or after pregnancy.  Once you have delivered your child then you can evaluate your abdomen to see if the contour bothers you and then seek the opinion of a PS for correction.

Dr. ES

Diastasis rectii

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

There is nothing you can do to prevent diastasis, but you need to be aware of something that can contribute to it. Women who spend large amounts of time in the gym, try to continue their workout routines when pregnant. Do not do sit ups when pregnant. The rectus muscle will split and go around the enlarged uterus.

No proactive way to control post pregnancy abdominal bulge

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

Unfortunately there is noting that you can do to protect yourself form stretching of the fascia of the anterior abdomen.  It is a matter of genetics and the rapidity of growth of your baby as well as size.  Some women go through a pregnancy and have not problems at all while others gain weight and have multiple stretch marks and develop an abdominal bulge.  

Jeffrey Zwiren, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 20 reviews

Preventing rectus diastasis

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

Unfortunately, the occurrence of rectus diastasis with pregnancy is really a matter of luck, just as is the development of stretch marks. There are no exercises or other means of preventing them, but your chances are probably greater if you gain excess weight with pregnancy.

Ronald J. Edelson, MD
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 29 reviews

No Way to Prevent Diastasis

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

Being fit and having a proper weight may help, but there is no proven way to prevent stretching of the abdominal wall during pregnancy. The stretching may affect the abdominal wall fascia and then cause a diastasis. So follow your Ob/Gyn recommendations on proper weight gain during pregnancy and see what happens.

Karol A. Gutowski, MD, FACS
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 76 reviews

Exercise Not Likely To Prevent Diastasis

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

Diastasis recti occurs to a greater or lesser extent in most pregnancies.  Exercise, before or after pregnancy, is unlikely to influence diastasis.  Minimizing weight gain during pregnancy could possibly be beneficial but is no guarantee to prevent.

John Whitt, MD (retired)
Louisville Plastic Surgeon

Prevention of Diastasis During Pregnancy

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

   Unfortunately, the intrauterine growth of the fetus places pressure on the abdominal wall and causes stretch on the wall as well as separation or diastasis.  Exercise throughout may improve outcome, but this is only an intuitive suggestion. 

Preventing diastasis

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

I am not aware of anything that can prevent a diastasis. I would suggest trying to stay fit, especially in the core. Also try not to gain too much weight during your pregnancy, but I think that is hard to do. Good luck.

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.