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Do You Have Diastasis Recti? Here’s How to Know (From Home!)

Are you wondering if you have diastasis recti? Then you’ve come to the right place! You don’t need a doctor or any equipment to tell you if you have diastasis recti – you can do a simple test at home. And this blog post tells you exactly how to do that.

woman with heart hands on abs

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If you just had a baby, you’re probably wondering if you have diastasis recti, or an abdominal separation. Well, chances are, you do. But don’t worry! In nearly every case, you can heal diastasis recti on your own at home.

But before we talk about healing, we need to talk about how to test if you have diastasis recti and how to know how big your gap is.

How to Know If You Have Diastasis Recti

After having a baby, most women will have a bit of a belly pooch, at least for a little while. If that pooch doesn’t seem to be going away at all, that may be a sign of diastasis recti. If you have diastasis recti, you may also experience other physical symptoms like back pain, core instability, and incontinence.

Whether or not you recognize any of these symptoms, there’s a way to test for diastasis recti at home, with no tools or training. Don’t start too soon though; it’s best if you wait until about 6 weeks postpartum to test.

Once you’ve had about 6 weeks to recover and start to heal, you can follow these steps to find out if you have diastasis recti.

Steps to Test for Diastasis Recti

  1. Start by lying on the floor or a relatively firm surface (probably not your bed) on your back with your knees bent.
  2. Pull your shirt up and out of the way so you can clearly see your abdomen.
  3. Place one hand under your head to support it then lift your head just barely off the ground (just an inch or two). This puts a little bit of tension on your abs so they clearly show the separation.

Now, you’re going to check for two different measurements: width and depth. And you’ll check both of those in 3 places: just above your belly button, right below your sternum, and right above your pubic bone.

You may want to have a piece of paper ready to record all the measurements so you can track your progress over time.

We’ll start with width.

  1. With your fingers pointing down toward your pelvis (not poking your belly, but laying flat), gently press down just above your belly button. Start with one finger. If you don’t feel the edges of muscle on either side of your finger, try with two fingers, then three, then four, until you feel the edges of your ab muscles framing your fingers. Make note of how many fingers wide the gap is.
  2. Now use your fingers to follow the gap up towards your sternum (the bone in between your ribs). You should feel the gap narrow until it comes to a point where your abs meet. Note how wide the gap is just below the point where your abs meet at the top.
  3. Finally, check how far above your belly button the gap closes. You can measure this in knuckles. Is the space the distance between the tip of your finger and your second knuckle? Or is it nearly the length of your whole finger, up to the knuckle where your finger meets your palm?
  4. Next, do all the same things but down toward your pubic bone. Find where the gap closes and check the width just above that point.
  5. Also make a note of how far below your belly button the gap closes.

Now let’s check the depth. The depth of diastasis recti may be a more telling sign of severity than width is.

  1. Starting just above your belly button again, gently press your finger down into your belly (still lifting your head just an inch or two off the ground). You’re looking for how far it sinks. Does it sink in up to your first knuckle? Just halfway to your first knuckle? Almost all the way to your second knuckle? Write down how far it sinks. 
  2. Next, measure the depth at the top of the gap, just below your sternum. Your finger probably won’t sink as far. Write down how many knuckles deep it is.
  3. Finally, measure the depth at the bottom of the gap, near your pubic bone. Write the depth down.

And that’s it! You just tested for diastasis recti on yourself!

Now, as you do exercises and work to close your gap, you can measure your progress, too.

Tips and Other Things to Remember When Testing

When testing for diastasis recti, there are a few things to remember.

First, always get down on the floor carefully. With diastasis recti, the best way to get to your back is to lie on your side first, supported by your arms as you get down, then roll to your back.

Second, don’t lift your head up too high. You don’t want to put a lot of pressure on your abs, just a tiny bit of tension so you can see and feel what’s going on.

Next, as you are measuring, always use the same amount of pressure. Especially when checking depth, how hard you press will change how far your finger sinks, so always use a gentle but consistent pressure.

Fourth, after you learn how to test for diastasis recti, it can be tempting to check every day. Fight that temptation. The more you check, the more you risk preventing that tissue from healing.

Finally, if you have some extra weight around your belly, it may be hard to do these measurements. You have two options.

One option is to get a baseline measurement by pressing your finger into your belly in a place where you know there is muscle (farther to the side) and making a note of how far your finger sinks. Then you can subtract that amount from how far your finger sinks as you are checking for diastasis recti in the middle.

Alternatively, you can just assume you have diastasis recti. Many women do and there isn’t any harm in being extra careful and doing safe core work. 

What It Means

Once you’ve tested for diastasis recti, you probably want to know what the measurements mean. First, like I mentioned earlier, you don’t need to be discouraged. Most of the time, diastasis recti can be healed at home without any treatments. 

With that said, here’s what the measurements mean, generally.

The width of an ab gap ranges from 1 to 4 fingers (roughly 1-6 centimeters). One finger width (about 1 centimeter) is mild and may not even be a diastasis – it may just be how a woman’s body is.

Four finger widths (or more than 4 centimeters) is the most severe and will potentially come with the most physical symptoms.

Depth usually ranges from less than a centimeter to more than 3. Ideally, you want to see less than 1 centimeter of depth. If you see 3 centimeters or more (about a knuckle and a half), your diastasis is severe.

What Next?

Now that you know you have diastasis recti, what’s next? It’s time to start the healing process. For most women, simple, at-home exercises are all that’s needed to heal diastasis recti. I’ll be writing all about healing diastasis recti soon, so stay tuned!

In the meantime, you can check out some of my fave YouTube videos on healing diastasis recti:

As you do these exercises and work through diastasis recti, it can be hard at first to feel like you have no core strength – I know, I’ve been there. But don’t give up! You will make progress and probably faster than you think. Just keep going!

Until next time,

Allison

READ MORE:

What is Diastasis Recti? (and What You Can Do To Avoid It)

How to Prepare for Postpartum: The Ultimate Guide

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