The what, when, why and how of Diastasis Recti

I get soooo many questions on IG about diastasis, so I figured I'd compile all the info here for you in one, easy to read blog post and answer all your questions at once.


There is so much misinformation out there surrounding diastasis, but one of the most common things I see that hinders diastasis recti healing is both a lack of understanding of the CAUSES of it, but also of the actual solutions. Because surgery is NOT the only option! And I can say that with great confidence because mine was once 5cm (at 2 years pp) and is now so completely healed that I couldn’t even demonstrate to you, or show you where it once was.


So let’s dive into the what, when, why and how of Diastasis Recti.


What is Diastasis Recti (DR)?

Diastasis Recti is a thinning of the linea alba, which is the connective tissue that creates tension between your six pack muscles and keeps them firmly together. When this connective tissue thins and stretches, it allows SPACE in between the two six pack muscles. You’ll know it, because you’ll be able to fit your fingers in between your abs. 

Because of this extra space and lack of tension, it causes the tummy to essentially collapse forwards. This is often referred to as the "mommy tummy" because it usually looks like a pooch or flabby belly. 

When a diastasis recti is present, it weakens the entire core system.


How common is it?

100% of women have it during the last few weeks of pregnancy, and around 40% of women still have it at 6 months postpartum. Basically, if it’s going to ever close up by itself, it should have done so by 6 months pp. So if you are beyond 6 months pp and you have a diastasis, you will need to start doing some intentional work to close it up, because it is unlikely to close by itself at that point.


What causes it?

It’s caused by excessive intra-abdominal pressure (pressure inside your abdomen) due to :

  • Pregnancy
  • Poor posture and misalignment 
  • Ab exercises that put too much forward pressure behind the ab midline (yes, men can have it too!)


How to test for Diastasis Recti?

  • Lay on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the ground
  • Bring one hand behind your head, and the other hand to your belly
  • As you exhale,  lift your head off the floor and look towards your belly button
  • Feel the width of the gap with your fingers. How many fingers can you insert widthways that sink down BEYOND your first set of knuckles?
  • Do this first right at the belly button. Then above the belly button, Then below.

Note that we are NOT just looking for the width of the gap. We are also (and mainly) concerned about  the DEPTH, and how well the connective tissue holds tension. 


When you do the test, what indicates a diastasis recti?

This is a bit of a gray area, because different people will tell you different things. The medical profession will tell you that a 2 finger wide gap or less is NOT technically considered a diastasis. However, from a fitness point of view, a 2 finger gap will still cause significant issues with FUNCTION, and will therefore likely also cause back pain.

So yes, while it is absolutely possible to be fully functional with a 2 finger diastasis, to still have full control of your pressure management system whilst doing certain exercises, for active people it is definitely not optimal.

From my own personal opinion, I consider 2 fingers or less as “functionally healed”, but zero separation as “fully healed”. Keep in mind that there will always be a teeny tiny gap right at the belly button. That is the way the body was designed. But you should not be able to sink more than one finger past your first knuckle.


What does it look like?

It can look many different ways, but it often looks like a rounded, protruding belly (but not always!) Sometimes it looks like a large dent in the midsection close to the belly button. And sometimes you really can’t see it at all, you can only feel it.


Why does it matter?

It makes it much harder to strengthen the core since the integrity and strength of the core muscles have been compromised. Which can lead to all sorts of dysfunctions such as:

  • pelvic floor issues (incontinence, prolapse)
  • lower back pain
  • pelvic pain
  • bloating
  • hernias 


How to heal your Diastasis Recti?

Regardless of if you are 6 weeks postpartum or 30 years post birth, closing a DR is not just about doing the exercises. 

Your body regenerates constantly and it regenerates not only according to your movement patterns, but also to your nutrition and sleep patterns as well. Improving all three of these elements will help your body to regenerate faster, and more efficiently.

Don’t expect an overnight fix. Remember that good things come to those who… take consistent action. Here are some things to be taking consistent action with if you’re serious about healing your diastasis in 2024:


Breathing and alignment strategies

Learning how to be more mindful of the way you breathe, the way you sit and stand, the way you move etc is a great first step in the diastasis healing journey. There are movements that put more stress on the abdominal wall, and then there are movements that actually take pressure AWAY from your abdominal wall. Understanding the difference is an essential part of the diastasis and pelvic floor healing process. (Make sure you’ve downloaded my free training on how to correct your breathing before you do anything else!)


Deep core exercises

Reconnect with & restrengthen your deep core muscles with diaphragmatic breathing exercises coupled with pelvic floor and transverse abdominal activation & strengthening (all of which are inside my 6 week Mama Method program). I don’t post too many of these exercises on instagram. And the reason for that is not to be a “gate keeper”, but because HOW you perform those exercises is absolutely critical to success. Which is why I ALWAYS say “please download my free training first”. Because without correcting the breathing first and foremost, none of it will make any sense. Nor will it be effective

Your form and your breathing technique are critical for closing a diastasis successfully.



Nutrient dense, real food helps the body to repair itself and reduce inflammation. Inflammation can cause bloating. And bloating puts added forward pressure on your midline (linea alba), making it harder and slower to close a diastasis.

Simply put, real food comes either from something that grows out of the ground, or something that walks, swims, or flies. Look for simple ingredients, ingredients you can pronounce, or make it yourself.

This is the exact reason why I include my 30 Day Intuitive Challenge when you pay in full for the Mama Method. To give you the tools you need to start getting more in tune with where your food comes from, how particular foods affect your body, meal prep ideas, recipes and more.


Manage stress 

If you are tired, anxious, or stressed, your body is depleted of energy and it can be difficult to focus on healing. 

Try to find ways to prioritize yourself, get good rest, and do things that soothe your soul daily. It doesn’t have to be anything crazy. Maybe you go to bed an hour earlier once or twice a week. Maybe it’s a hike. Maybe you eat your lunch outside. Little things can make a big difference! 


How do you know it’s healed?

Full Diastasis Recti when you do the DR self-test:

  • 2 finger gap or more.
  • Very soft ab midline.


Functional Diastasis Recti when you do the DR self-test:

  • 2 finger gap or less.
  • Very firm ab midline.

In both cases, the ab midline can hold good tension while exercising (no coning or bulging in most if not all exercises).


Fully healed when you do the DR self-test:

  • Just your finger at the belly button
  • Doesn’t sink past your first knuckle 

When is the best time to heal a Diastasis Recti?

The optimum time to START healing your core is at around 6-24 weeks after delivery.

The separation is more likely to heal quickly in this window.

If you’re beyond 6 months pp, don’t worry, it’s NEVER too late to start changing and healing your body. Many of my students already have grandchildren and are making incredible progress. If you’re 30+ years post birth, yes you CAN still completely change and heal your core. The best time to start is today.


Gentle reminder that your core is not going to magically strengthen or heal itself. My best advice: “Don’t think. Just do” - Maverick.


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