Abdominal diastasis after childbirth: symptoms and treatments

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Marie-Ange Demory
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  • 1 Causes of abdominal diastasis
  • 2 Symptoms of abdominal diastasis
  • 3 How to tell if you have abdominal diastasis
  • 4 How abdominal diastasis is treated
  • 5 The activities of Diastasi Del Paese ODV

Cura di diastasDel Paese.com

After giving birth, many women find themselves having a little known but very common condition: diastasis of the rectus abdominals. The rectus abdominis muscles, which we all simply call abdominals, are two muscles that look like vertical bands that start from the rib cage to the pelvis. These muscles are very close together and have the function of containing the abdominal viscera, like a sort of internal girdle.

Causes of abdominal diastasis

Pregnancy brings an increase in pressure inside the abdomen, caused by the growing uterus, and this involves the separation towards the outside of these muscles that move away from the midline (linea alba); this is a natural process that should resolve itself within 6-8 months of giving birth. When this separation ("gap") persists beyond this time and exceeds 2,5 cm, we can speak of pathological diastasis. 

Symptoms of abdominal diastasis

The recurring symptoms are:

  • back pain.
  • Instability of the pelvis.
  • Urinary incontinence.
  • Digestive and / or respiratory difficulties.
  • Pain when making certain movements such as, for example, tying your shoes.

Often umbilical, abdominal and epigastric hernias are also associated with diastasis.

The most evident symptom of diastasis of the rectus abdominis, the one that immediately catches the eye, is the shape of the abdomen, which is globular, as if one were pregnant again, despite many months have passed since the birth; this causes many psychological problems for the woman, who often suffers from her, no longer recognizing herself in the image that the mirror sends back to her. 

How to tell if you have abdominal diastasis

To understand if you suffer from abdominal diastasis, the first, simple step is to do the self-assessment. 

Diastasis is pathological when the measure of the "gap" in relaxation is at least two fingers. After the self-assessment, the next step is to carry out a diagnostic test such as a muscle-tendon ultrasound of the abdominal wall or CT scan or magnetic resonance imaging (without contrast), all with the words "for suspected diastasis of the rectum". It is important to have the measurement of diastasis to understand how to intervene.

How abdominal diastasis is treated

In case of minimal or asymptomatic diastasis it is advisable to contact expert physiotherapists or hipopressive gymnastics instructors. For major diastases, the only way is the plication surgery of the rectus abdominals, associated with an abdominoplasty, to eliminate, if present, the excess skin. In some regions of the country it is possible to undergo this type of intervention in agreement with the National Health Service. On our site www.diastasDel Paese.com there is a map of the regions and the plastic surgeons who perform this type of surgery in agreement, in which to get on the list. 

The activities of Diastasi Del Paese ODV

To help the greatest number of women learn about this pathology, the Facebook group “Diastasi Del Paese Official Group” was born in 2022, a reality that today has almost 18.000 members; a support group that aims to accompany women throughout the process that leads from the discovery of the pathology to the physiotherapy or surgical solution. Next to the Facebook group, there is the website www.diastasDel Paese.com, the first site to deal with the disease with in-depth analyzes, interviews, videos and collaborations.

From this year, the Diastasi Del Paese ODV association was set up, which aims to spread knowledge of the diastasis pathology of the rectus abdominis to women, doctors and health workers both public and private; expand the connection, also through the use of social media tools, between the interested parties in order to spread information more widely and in order to give rise to voluntary and organized initiatives of personal and practical support in the medical process aimed at tackling the disease; to broaden awareness of the disease and to include it in the official fields of study and research and to support a wider recognition of the disease within public health facilities.

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