Diastasis Recti & Corrective Exercises

Diastasis recti is a side effect of pregnancy that many women encounter. Here’s more about it, and how to heal. 

What is diastasis recti?

In its simplest definition, diastasis recti is the separation of the two rectus abdominis muscles that are held together by a band of connective tissue called the linea alba.

During pregnancy, hormones cause the linea alba to soften. This can lead to a “thicker” waistline in the early stages of pregnancy. The softening combined with pressure from a growing baby can cause the two recti to separate around the area of the navel.

Diastasis Recti
Source: Healthy Moms® Shelia S. Watkins

After the 20th week of pregnancy, women can be checked to see if any separation has occurred.

This video shows how to check for distasis recti. Summary: Fingers line up perpendicular to the linea alba, and start at the navel, moving down. A separation of more than 2 fingers width, indicates separation.

Corrective Exercise

This simple exercise will help keep the abs from further separating as they begin to heal.

Diastasis Recti_corrective exercise

1. Lie in supine position (on back) with knees bent. Cross your hands over the abdominal area, guiding recti muscles toward the middle.

2. Inhale, then slowly exhale and pull in abdominal muscles, navel to spine, while simultaneously pulling muscles together with hands. Keep shoulder blades on ground to avoid activating the oblique muscles which insert on the linea alba.

Do this exercise several times in the morning and evening.


My Core Training During Pregnancy

During my first pregnancy, I mainly listened to my body but kept training at a fairly high level. I had not gone with Healthy Moms® Perinatal Fitness Certification yet. So, I did a lot of core exercises that are not encouraged by that training (without knowing).

Crunches are a big no, especially if you have diastasis recti. They will actually do more harm. And, the seemingly harmless plank, can actually increase your risk for diastasis recti. What?!

GNC HARD CORE workout plank DB

Here’s the rational.

A pregnant belly in the 2nd and 3rd trimester can be a lot of of extra weight in the front of the body. Couple that with being in a front plank position, and you are a putting a ton of stress on the already softened linea alba.

I was bummed when I learned this, because I thought a plank was a pretty safe exercise I could do anywhere.

However, this pregnancy I’m focusing more on staying upright to keep my abs toned and strong.

Overhead squats

1. Overhead Lifts

Holding weight overhead, like in overhead squats or push-press, engages my core. Your abs have to be “turned on” to support this weight properly.

2. Kettlebell Swings

Kettlebell swings require your core to be active throughout the movement. This movement is a great way to improve conditioning as well. Read more about that HERE.

3. Squats

Squats in all variations are a great way to continue to train your abs. Again, your abs must be “on” to support the weight, whether it’s a back, front, or goblet squat.

4. Being Aware of Posture 

When I’m sitting at the computer, taking Cooper and Jada for a walk, driving, I’m thinking about my posture and drawing my abs in.

Family Walk at Park

And, belly breathing throughout the day, helps too.

I exhale, and letting my belly expand, then inhale and draw my abs inward, gently “hugging” the baby. Simply being more aware of my abs being engaged, quickly fixes my posture to avoid lordosis (swayback).

Your turn:
What is your favorite exercise for training abs?


Disclaimer: Although I am an NSCA-CSCS and Healthy Moms® Perinatal Instructor,  you should consult a physician before starting any exercise program or diet plan. If you choose to do any of the workouts featured on this website, you do so at your own risk.




20 Week Pregnancy Update

20 Weeks Pregnant belly

Yesterday, marked the halfway point in pregnancy #2 for us, so I'm 20 weeks pregnant! I had my most recent check up in Chicago with my new doctor and really love her, so that's a relief! I will go in August 11th for an ultrasound, and yes, we will find out the gender. I'm late to the party on this, because we switched health insurance mid-pregnancy, so scheduling has been a pain. Due Date: December 16th Baby’s Size Baby is about the size of a mango at 6.5 in. & 10 … [Continue reading]

Let Go of Mom Guilt & Exercise

Mom Guilt and Exercise

Guess what moms? It's perfectly reasonable to do something for yourself. So ditch the mom guilt and exercise! Once you become a parent, your priorities shift and suddenly your needs take a backseat to this little human(s). Although your needs come second (or third), they should not be ignored, right? Sadly, I have read comments on various social platforms from mothers tearing down other mothers for choosing to exercise. Shouldn't we be lifting each other up? Inspiring other moms … [Continue reading]

Family Road Trip

Traveling with Toddler healthy snacks

We made our way back to Illinois this week after a fun month in Omaha that included lots activities, play dates, and time with my girl. Whole Foods dinners Painting  Frequent trips to the splash park The Lincoln Children's Zoo with friends Outdoor concerts with Mimi & Papa Backyard swimming & picnics Omaha Farmers Market The Omaha Zoo, playground workouts, and time with blends are a few more activities you read about. But, then the … [Continue reading]

Fun Fitness Gear Giveaway!

View Sport tank

This post is sponsored by ViewSPORT®. All opinions are my own. Today, I have a fun sweat-inspired giveaway from ViewSPORT®, the makers of sweat-activated fitness gear! I have worked with ViewSPORT® in the past, and they have expanded their collection of shirts and tank tops to include hoodies, tights, capris, and shorts. The Faster, Better, Stronger tank top material is soft and moisture wicking. Plus, I love the flattering, athletic design. You can see I put the sweat … [Continue reading]

How to Stay Fit While Traveling


Whether it’s for work or play, travel can be tough on your fitness routine. But, it doesn’t have to. Here are a few tips I use for staying fit on the road. 1. Explore Your Surroundings A workout doesn’t have to take place in the gym. Depending on your destination, take time to explore your new surroundings by walking, running, or even biking. I recently took a quick trip to Chicago to visit Spencer, meet a new doctor, and do a fast and furious house hunt. We are on the edge of … [Continue reading]

18 Weeks Pregnant

For Two Fitness Shirt_2

Thanks to For Two Fitness® for sponsoring this campaign. I recently shared a first trimester update, so here's an 18 week follow-up for those interested (I understand this may not be everyone's cup tea!). Food Aversions/Cravings: Snack plates continue to be a favorite. But, it could also be due to the summertime temperatures. Sometimes my body is screaming for protein (even in the first trimester). Sleep: Like I mentioned, I need my sleep to keep up with Jada. Sleep has been … [Continue reading]

No Equipment Outdoor Workouts

Outdoor workout with toddler burpees 2

I have been relying on no equipment outdoor workouts while Jada and I are visiting my family!  You guys know I love lifting heavy weights and find that is an effective way to not only get stronger, but stay lean. However, when I'm traveling, I can't bring my barbell with me. Accordingly, here are an assortment of no equipment workouts that happen to be kid-friendly as well that I have been doing on the road. Playground Workout 5 Rounds 10 squats 10 push-ups 10 reverse … [Continue reading]

What to Expect When Expecting

What to Expect_4

During my pregnancy with Jada, I read What to Expect® When You're Expecting religiously. My best friend gave me the book when I told her I was pregnant. I found it immensely helpful to read about the journey I was presently on. There is plethora of information designed to help expecting mothers, and I couldn't read enough! I wanted to learn about it all. After all, "it is the bestselling pregnancy book, recommended by moms and doctors alike." The longtime running New York Times … [Continue reading]

Pregnancy Questions: First Trimester

For Two Fitness Shirt

I'm so grateful for all of your kind comments on our big news! I'm going through the comments to answer your questions, and thought it'd be helpful to share a post. What was the first trimester like? Were you sick? I'm in the 2nd trimester at 17 weeks now. And, just like with Jada, I was lucky to avoid any nausea. The only food aversion I had was sugary items in the evening. Isn't that weird? For someone that loves a sweet treat, it simply did not sound good. I have been eating lots of … [Continue reading]