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What is a Diastasis?
Diastasis is a separation of the outer rectus abdominis muscle that often occurs during pregnancy. You can check for it before or after you give birth: Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Place your fingertips horizontally 2 inches above or below your navel. Exhale as you slowly lift just your head. Press gently and feel for a separation the width of three fingers or more and a soft area in the middle; that's a diastasis.
After checking, roll to one side and use your arms to push yourself up to a seated position. Safety note: If you feel dizzy, roll to one side. Do not remain in the back-lying position for more than 10 seconds.
If You Have a Diastasis:
Avoid doing twisting exercises and remember to draw your navel toward your spine before getting up or down from a seated position or lifting objects. Also try splinting, which can keep the separation from getting larger.
How to Splint for a Diastasis:
A splint is simply a piece of cloth that can be used to help keep the two halves of the outer abdominal muscles together as you do abdominal exercises. It also can help you prevent a diastasis or avoid exacerbating an existing separation.
Take a strong scarf or piece of fabric that's about 62 inches long and 6 to 9 inches wide (towels are too thick; splints are available at www.maternalfitness.com). Wrap the cloth flat around your lower back, holding a section of the cloth in each hand (do not make a knot). Bring your right hand across your body and pull toward your middle, resting your hand on your abdomen. Bring your left hand across to your right side. Pull gently from both sides toward the middle over your bellybutton and hold as you do any abdominal exercises.