Diastasis Recti: Closing the Gap

Ok, here it is! Girl to girl, we need to discuss something I THINK is more common than I’ve ever believed! I’m getting a little personal and a little science-y on you today to talk about diastasis recti. Diastasis rect-who? Rect-ME! (Ok, stop).

I’m going to warn you up front. There is SO much to cover in this post—it’s a little long. If you wanna’ get straight to the meat (or the exercises you can do to fix your diastasis recti), scroll down. If you wanna’ learn more and figure out if you have this condition, keep reading.

Let me get you up to speed. Diastasis recti generally happens during pregnancy when the two large parallel bands of abdominal muscles separate due to the expanding uterus. Some women’s ab muscles go back to normal after the baby is born, and some do not…mine never have, and chances are yours haven’t either – which is why you are here.

The good news is that the diastasis caused by pregnancy can be corrected with exercises and stretches designed to optimize deep core muscular function. So ladies, don’t worry—your body wants to function right, and it will. We just need to wake up the right core muscles and teach them what to do! But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Saving that for later.

Now how this happens and why it is worse for some women, no one is 100% sure. But we can hypothesize. It’s been said to be hereditary, but it may also be caused by working out your abs too soon after a baby is born, or even doing the wrong exercises WHILE pregnant. While I didn’t workout during ALL of my pregnancies (just the last 2), I personally feel like working my abs hard during prego worsened my condition. But that’s just my opinion.

Crazy fact, I didn’t even notice my ab separation until after Cash was born!! Yes, 3 kids later. I mean, I knew it was there, but I didn’t realize it was a medical condition. Embarrassingly enough, I always just though I had definition down the center of my abs! Ha! Nope…wishful thinking. Just diastasis. Once I realized this odd look my midsection had wasn’t normal, nor was it normal for me to be able to literally stick my hand inside of my abs and touch my insides with just skin separating, I knew I had to do something about it. If you’d like a visual, just check out the pic below. This was posted on social media a couple weeks back, and I got an overwhelming response from women (you!) that suffer from the same condition…


From a medical standpoint, until recently I had a little over a 3-finger sized gap between my abs that was physically unprotected. Like I said, intestines…right below my skin. And during certain ab exercises, my insides would actually protrude through my abs, forming a weird point. Disgusting, I know. And it’s even scarier to think how vulnerable my vital organs were. If this went untreated, I could suffer from a major intestinal hernia, and given my level of activity (and types of heavy lifting), chances of this happening are higher than most. I mean, I already have an obvious umbilical hernia (my dramatic outtie belly button) so I figure I am more prone than most…

Extensive research on the topic taught me a few things…one of them being there are a handful of factors that make a woman more susceptible to diastasis recti:

  • Having more than one child/pregnancy
  • Having pregnancies close together
  • Being over the age of 35
  • Having big babies
  • Having multiple births

I know…some of you are looking at this list realizing you’ve been double—or even quadruple—whammied! (I’m raising my hand to a couple). Don’t beat yourself up about what you cannot change, diastasis recti is very common—about 67% of all postpartum women have it. So you (and I) are in good company.

If you’re not sure if you are among the lucky few that steered clear of this pregnancy consequence, here’s an easy way to check:

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent, soles of your feet close to your booty.
  2. Place one hand behind your neck and the other hand on your abdomen with your fingertips flat at your belly button, fingers facing downward.
  3. Gently push your fingertips into your abdomen while rolling your upper body off of the floor, chin towards the ceiling.
  4. Feel for a separation between those two ab muscles. Experts say that a 2-2.5 finger or more spread signals diastasis recti.


Now, let’s talk about our options moving forward. We can go the immediate and potentially easy (but expensive) route with surgery. BUT, surgery is not always recommended if you are still in your childbearing years…I mean think about it, one more baby, and you’ll pop them right back apart! As well, there is no guarantee that surgery will be 100% effective. (SIDE NOTE…Research on this topic started once Chris told me NO to this option…because he wants more babies! Another topic for another day…but…).

So for me, at-home exercises and remedies are the way to go. Anytime I can avoid going under the knife, I will. And worst case? If the exercises don’t work, surgery as an option is always going to be there.

Before we go further—a very important disclaimer: The following “fixes” are all based on my experience and my research, so please check with your doc BEFORE doing anything for your diastasis recti since each case is different. Okay, here goes:

Over this past year, my training protocol has changed as I have transitioned from CrossFit-style workouts to body building. Along with the training change-up, I changed the way I worked my abs too, focusing on decreasing (actually eliminating) the typical ab exercises and increasing the deep-core muscle exercises. I am happy to report that over this year, my abdominal muscle separation has decreased dramatically to less than 2 fingers!! But it still isn’t quite where I need it to be to consider myself healed.


The proof is in the pudding for me: A lot of this boils down to doing the RIGHT exercises. I realize that for so long I was doing what I intuitively thought would work (swing ups, sit ups, V ups, knees to bar, etc), but in reality, these move were working against me by ONLY working my Rectus Abdominus. The REAL muscles that needed working are known as the Transversus Abdominus and Lumbar Multifidus. These are the the most neglected of the ab muscles, but also happen to be arguably the most important. They lie beneath the Rectus Abdominus, supporting posture, controlling breathing during heavy lifts, and supporting the back. These are the muscles elite athletes work to add explosive power to training and are also the muscles we mamas need to work to relieve back pain, create a tighter midsection, AND improve our diastasis recti.

Some at-home exercises you can do to focus on these important muscles are below. I’ve also recorded a demonstration video for you (at the bottom of the post) so you can SEE how to perform these moves right and hear my instructions.  Make sure that when you do these moves, you focus and move slowly—keeping the mind body connection. In other words, don’t just go through the moves. You’ll notice that breathing is a KEY component to all of these movements: deep inhales, and exhale when you activate the muscles.

    1. Drawing In Exercise: Now technically every single move listed below requires you to “draw in,” so I figured I would do a little explaining. Drawing in is NOT sucking in (which uses the outer muscles). Drawing in is done by allowing those inner muscles to pull your abdomen deep inside toward your spine. Draw in from the lower region of your abs. Drawing in is something you can do in sets for as long as you can hold (work up to 60 seconds at a time), or it’s something you can simply do as you walk around your house. Believe it or not, your posture will improve big time with this! This can be done standing, sitting, lying down…you name it. Just DRAW IN!
    2. Vacuuming: No…not vacuuming your carpet (although I guess technically you can vacuum ON your carpet). I’m talking about the core exercise known by this name. I know I’ve talked about this before, but I’m going to talk about it again. Easily explained, simply stand up straight, inhale deeply, followed by an exhale. Once all of the air is deflated from your lungs, draw your belly button in and up toward your spine. HOLD (as tough as it is) for as long as you can. I aim for 30 seconds, but if holding your breath that long isn’t doable, simply keep the clock running and keep your belly button in and tight as you slowly breathe for the remainder of the 30 seconds. Try for 5-10 reps a day.
    3. Broomstick Rotations: With a dowel or a broomstick behind your neck, perform a vacuum, then when all air is exhaled and you are holding your breath with your abs squeezed, slowly rotate from side to side until you cannot hold your breath any longer. Breathe. Repeat 5-10 times.
    4. Abduction with Core Activation: Lie on your back with a resistance band around your knees. Exhale, engage your core and pelvic floor and pull your knees apart. Relax, inhale, and repeat for 10 reps. Be sure to keep your spine neutral and don’t press your lower back into the ground.
    5. Heel Slide: Lie on your back with both knees bent, feet flat. Exhale as you engage your core and pelvic floor, and slide one heel slowly along the ground until your leg is straight. Inhale and relax, then engage your core, exhale, and draw that heel back. Do 5 reps on each leg.

Once again, scroll to the bottom for my step-by-step video.

Now when it comes to traditional training and weight lifting, consider wearing a weight belt. It has worked WONDERS for me. Not only will a weight belt support your core while lifting heavy loads, but more importantly, it will act as a cue/reminder to activate and draw in with your core while lifting. Otherwise, we are naturally prone to distending our bellies during heavy lifting, only worsening our diastasis recti. This is the one I use…

HP Weight Belt opt

So ladies, however you choose to take care of your diastasis recti, whether DIY exercises or surgery, know you are making the choice that is right for you! It’s a medical condition and not just a vain aesthetic concern, so if surgery is what you choose, then surgery it is! But if exercises are your method of healing, please keep me up to speed on your progress.

And in the meantime, have those babies, LOVE those babies, and appreciate every consequence of having such perfect little miracles! #BattleWounds

And finally…the demonstration vid…;)

Related reading:

Ask Heidi Anything: Carb Cycling While Prego?
My 1st Post Ruby Workout
My Pregnancy Workout: The Nasty 9s
My 5 Gym (and Home Gym) Must-Haves


  1. Jennifer - April 21, 2017

    Great information! Generally how long does it take to begin to close the gap? And how will I know when it’s ok to return to other abdominal exercises without exacerbating the DR. I run, lift and do yoga but not seeing the progress I had hoped in my core tone and didn’t realize some exercises could make it more pronounced. I’ve been diagnosed with mild DR (2 finger width) after four babies (my last baby three years ago was a 10lb!).

    • Team Powell - April 22, 2017

      Hi Jennifer: I’d definitely chat with your healthcare team about your DR since the recovery time can be different for each woman. We wish you all the best for a quick recovery! 🙂

  2. Linda s - April 17, 2017

    Is it possible to fix diastasis recti 12 years after my last pregnancy? I have been doing an exercise class twice a week that includes body weight, kettle bell and dumbe exercises. My back muscles are very hypertrophied to make up for what I have just realized is core weakness and DR. Is it too late to heal this bulging?

    • Team Powell - April 18, 2017

      Hi Linda: It would be best to discuss this with your healthcare team and then follow their recommendations. They are the best ones to help you with this since they know the extent of your DR and can work with you personally. We wish you the best! 🙂

  3. John - April 16, 2017

    Hey Heidi (& Chris) – what about obese men who develop this? I’m sure you’ve worked with many in your show that may have had this simply from such high amounts of fat on the inside? Same excercises or most likely need surgery since it wasn’t over a 9 month period- most likely much longer.

    • Team Powell - April 17, 2017

      Hi John: We recommend that anyone who feels they might have Diastasis Recti talk to their healthcare team and then follow their recommendations for how to work towards healing. We wish you all the best!

  4. Martyna Fyda - April 12, 2017

    Hi Heidi, what exercises can I do at the gym? What equipment can I use and which one is safe for me? I would like to get my tone abs back and reduce DR

    • Team Powell - April 13, 2017

      Hi Martyna: Before you begin any exercise program, I’d talk with your healthcare team about what exercises are appropriate for you and then follow their recommendations. Since each case of DR and the correct treatment can be different, we’d hate to recommend anything that might make this worse for you.

  5. Marina Stevens - March 13, 2017

    I had my first child 1.5 years ago. I just learned that I have diastasis recti and I’m at a lost on how to exercise. I am doing the exercises on this blog to help bring together my separated abs, but what other exercises can I do to help lose the baby weight, specifically the belly weight. Please help!

    • Team Powell - March 14, 2017

      Hi Marina: Be sure and discuss your diastasis recti with your doctor before doing any exercises to try and repair it since what works for one woman might not work for another. As far as losing weight, here’s a link to Chris and Heidi’s carb cycling program: http://heidipowell.net/9060. And be sure and follow all the links within the post too – they lead to even more helpful transformation tools!And you might also want to check into Chris and Heidi’s new Transform app that’s about ready to launch – it will outline everything you need to do for you every day! You can learn more about it here: http://thetransformapp.com. You can do this!

  6. Amy - March 7, 2017

    Hey Heidi, Thanks for the article. But I just wanted to give a shout out to you and all the ladies that are watching your DR check video. Remember to always lie down and get up from lying down by first lying onto your side, then lowering yourself down with your arm, and rolling onto your back. And when getting up, rolling on to your side, then pushing yourself up with your arm. If you just lie straight back or jackknife up like in the video, this makes the diastasis recti separation worse.

  7. Julie Joy - March 5, 2017

    This post (and video) is SO helpful! Thank you! I just discovered I had DR and was super bummed. I’m looking forward to doing these exercises and closing the gap!

  8. Molly - February 23, 2017

    My twins are 18 mos and I just saw a general practitioner about this this week who told me only that many people have problems the mesh surgery. I left the appt feeling so defeated and like I would just have a 6 month pregnant pooch for eternity…and she advised me not to lift over 25lbs, like ever. Umm, my twins are 25 lbs and our older child is 40lbs. I’m so glad I found this website! By the way, I fit every one of your criteria on the list. I was 36 when I had my first baby….who was 9lbs 2 Oz, and just 19 months after he was born, I had twins at 7lbs8oz and 5lbs5oz.!

  9. Cari S - February 23, 2017

    Thank you for this article!! I have had 5 babies and am a group fitness and dance instructor and I was really feeling quite shameful that I was leading women in exercises and yet I have this issue… So I am happy to see you have struggled with the same problem of separation even though you’re an amazing powerhouse athlete. I will get on these exercises today and get back to feeling more confident.

  10. Ana - February 7, 2017

    Hi Team
    Is it too late to do this? My baby is 19 months old now.


    • Team Powell - February 7, 2017

      Hi Ana: It shouldn’t be, but I’d check with your doctor. 🙂

    • Jordan - February 7, 2017

      Hey Ana, I didn’t start my recovery until almost a year after having my baby and I officially closed my gap within the last couple weeks. I had made my DR worse over that time, but there is always a possibility for improvement! If you feel like you need more in depth exercises, check out Core Exercise Solutions by Sarah Duvall. She is a physical therapist who has developed an online program and address DR, pelvic floor dysfunction, and several other things related to pregnancy.

  11. Michelle - February 5, 2017

    This is very helpful! I am preparing to deliver my 4th child via c-section and before this pregnancy my DR was so bad I could fit over 4 fingers in my middle. Given the severity, what is a reasonable amount if time to try at home remedies before exploring more drastic measures? I realize every woman is different. I’m fit and on the lower end of a healthy weight range, but by doing these exercises daily can I expect to see results within a few months?

    • Team Powell - February 5, 2017

      Hi Michelle: Congratulations on baby #4! It’s hard to say what you should do. I’d definitely talk with your healthcare team and get their opinion. We wish you all the best! 🙂

  12. Crystal - January 22, 2017

    I am so happy you did this blog thank you so much. I’ve always known I had this gap but didn’t know what it was. I had 3 c-sections all big baby’s. My stomach is horrible I hate it I have loose skin bad and am so self conscious about it. My Dr told me I will never be able to fix without surgery I don’t have money so I gave up on trying to fix it I thought no sense exercising cause it’s screwed forever. But I been so down on myself I said screw it I’m going to try I been doing ab wheel every day. I wanted to ask you was your skin loose from this conditioner too? Do you think I will be able to fix it at all by doing these workouts and with ab wheel? Even if I can make it look better and not so wrinkly I will be happy I can’t even really see my belly button. Please let me know or anyone with same issue or simular? Thank you so much

    • Team Powell - January 22, 2017

      Hi Crystal: It’s really hard to say how your skin will react since each woman’s skin can be affected differently. However, the stronger those core muscles are, the more they can help the appearance of your core. And a strong core is important in so many ways, so that’s an awesome fringe benefit! 🙂

  13. Leslie - January 11, 2017

    How often do you recommend doing these exercises and how many reps? I have about a 2-2.5 inch gap.

    • Team Powell - January 11, 2017

      Hi Leslie: You can do these exercises every day, and the number of reps for each exercise is listed in the post. And always follow your doctor’s recommendations if you have diastasis recti.

  14. Jennifer Garlick - November 4, 2016

    I’ve had 4 babies, my biggest was 10 lbs. I’ve got this condition so badly that I wear a wrap when I’m going to be doing a lot of lifting or housework. Thank you so much for this hope.

    • Jordan - February 7, 2017

      you may want to look into doing some more extensive exercises with a physical therapist. Check out Sarah Duvall with Core Exercise Solutions! She does everything online, but offers support through a Facebook page. She wants to help women be stong moms without the worry of pain or not being able to play with your kids. The program has been wonderful and I have successfully closed my gap 🙂 good luck, it can be done!!!

  15. Nora - October 30, 2016

    I just had my third baby, second big one, and he did such a number on my body, this is the first pregnancy I’ve had this issue, but my boy was 9.3 and I had to have a c section, so all of the odds were against me. Thank you for this article, I’m looking forward to working on my gap and getting my body healed and back in shape!

  16. Courtney - October 30, 2016

    I know we’re supposed to comment on another blog on your website to enter your stroller giveaway but truth-be-told: I’ve got this post bookmarked for after baby arrives. Always prepared!

  17. Beth - October 28, 2016

    Thank you for sharing this Heidi ! I just love you and your family and your openess to help other you and Chris have inspired me in many ways to never give up and go for my goals?

  18. Courtney - October 28, 2016

    Thank you so much for this post. There’s not enough information provided to women about this topic postpartum. Where would we be without you?!

  19. Katy Lott - October 28, 2016

    I love this, such good information. I was always told by the doctor to “lose weight…workout more” no one ever told me there’s a right and wrong way to workout with this. No one even ever checked me for this!! I’m fairly certain I’ve had it since my 1st pregnancy (just had 4th). Thank you for the help. Know better, do better!!

  20. Melanie Cann - October 28, 2016

    Thank you for covering this. This post is one of the reasons I began following you! Thank you for inspiring us mammas that we can get our abs back! I got this with my 1st daughter and it definitely did not get better with my second.lol. Here’s to putting me back together again:-).

  21. MK.Patterson - October 28, 2016

    I’m struggling with this issue right now. I appreciate the tips on how to close the gap!

  22. Kelly Osland - October 28, 2016

    Post #2
    The TA is really hard to explain to people. You do a great job!

  23. Alexa Hunt Feinauer - October 28, 2016

    I chose this blogpost to read because getting pregnant at 18 and having a baby at 19, I’m really scared about not having my body back. I worked extremely hard–lifting, running, and eating to always make sure my body was the best it could be. My baby wasn’t planned and when I found out I was pregnant I felt like my body was just downhill from there and that I didn’t get the amount of time I wanted to make my body the way I wanted it. I’ve since grown to love my baby in my belly and I continue to workout everyday. This is another reason I’d love the jogging stroller. I’m willing to do whatever possible to still reach my goals for myself, for my new husband, and for my baby to be.

  24. Maddy Edwards - October 28, 2016

    Will be needing this soon!!

  25. Jackie Stall - October 28, 2016

    Thank you so much for writing this and sharing your story! I’m a mom of 6 and I also have a DR and umbilical hernia. I’ve been working hard to help it heal since our youngest was born last year. It can be such a discouraging journey.

  26. Sarah - October 28, 2016

    This blog post is bookmarked. This has been insanely helpful and encouraging to me as I struggle with my DR and hernia on top of that. I’m not ready to have hernia surgery yet just because we haven’t decided if we are going to have another child or not… ? So in the mean time, I’ve been implementing these techniques and routines and hope to see similar progress as you!

  27. Rachel A - October 28, 2016

    Such good info for such a real problem. Love how you said though to “have those babies and love those babies,and appreciate the consequences of having those little miracles”. Totally worth it, but nice to know there are ways to fight back to get your body right afterwards!

  28. Sara Perna - October 28, 2016

    You are such an inspiration! I have a 4 finger gap and it’s so amazing to see someone confront DR and talk about it openly. Thank you!!

  29. Amy - October 28, 2016

    Love this blog- after 2 csections it has been so hard getting me stomach back and the separation is even harder. Thank you for being such an inspiration!!

  30. Ashley - October 28, 2016

    This was so helpful! Me and my sister were just talking about this. I thankfully did not have this, but my sister had multiple pregnancies and has this. She was telling me the other day her Dr. said nothing can be done to fix it. I quickly told her that it can be fixed with the right workout, I remembered seeing this post. As soon as I got home I sent her he video and blog post.

  31. Melody - October 28, 2016

    Thank you for this!

  32. A.K. - October 19, 2016

    I just found out I had D.R. 3 months ago. My Physical Therapist actually told me. My 2nd child is 3.5 years old! Oh how I wish I had known about D.R. years ago! Anyway, I injured my tailbone so the exercises the Physical Therapist gave me for that in turn has helped the D.R. I was about 3-4 finger width D.R. I did a recheck and below my belly button has closed completely. However, above my belly button is still sitting at about a 2. Is it normal for the bottom to close but not the top?

    • Team Powell - October 19, 2016

      Hi A.K.: It’s so exciting that your DR is getting better! I’d talk with your PT or doc about your question. We wish you the best!

  33. Erin Cuentas - October 18, 2016

    Hi, I am 13 months postpartum with about a 2 finger separation and pelvic floor issues with a prolapsed bladder. I’ve been to doctors and physical therapists and have seen my stomach get flatter, but no where near where I was or what you look like. I was a Cross Fit coach and a triathlete before my pregnancy. I’ve been trying to figure out how to go back into running and aggressive Cross Fit workouts, but feel extremely unstable. You mentioned feeling vulnerable with your organs exposed, but I feel like my guts are going to pour out the front and bottom of me every time I try to take a few steps running. Have you ever felt like that, or do you think my combo of DR+pelvic floor issues is to blame.

    • Team Powell - October 18, 2016

      Hi Erin: It’s hard to say why this is happening to you. If you haven’t already done so, I’d chat with your doc about this issue specifically. We wish you the best and hope you can find the answers you’re seeking so you can get back to do doing the workouts you love to do. 🙂

  34. Amanda - October 18, 2016

    Mine is one finger width (based on test when you are on the floor and hand near your belly button). Should I do any ab workout or be safe and do the ones that you recommend in this article?

    • Team Powell - October 18, 2016

      Hi Amanda: It would be best to discuss any exercises with your healthcare team first and then follow their recommendations just in case. 🙂

  35. Nate - October 17, 2016

    I understand Heidi recently had surgery to correct an umbilical hernia. I also have this problem and and would like to have it corrected. Like Heidi and Chris, I also live in the valley. I’m hoping you could share who her surgeon was for this procedure, so I could get a professional opinion. Thank you.

  36. Robyn - September 28, 2016

    I have a 4 year old and watching this really answered my tummy problems. I have this and no doctor tells you anything about this. I have been working out, is it too late for me to fix my DR?

    • Team Powell - September 28, 2016

      Hi Robyn: It’s hard to tell, but see what your doctor says. We wish you the best!

  37. Jennifer Nelson - September 22, 2016

    Just found out I have a mild D.R. (1 finger) after my second c-section. I’ve been doing these exercises and a few more to try to repair it. I’m getting discouraged though b/c I’m not doing any other ab work besides these exercises and I feel as if my abs aren’t developing. Do you do additional abdominal work to keep your core so fit, or is this all you focus on? I guess I’m just scared to make the D.R. worse :/

    • Team Powell - September 22, 2016

      Hi Jennifer: I don’t believe Heidi does any other ab work. You do engage your abs/core in many other exercises, so you should be good to go! And the most important thing is to repair that DR for now.

  38. Carolina Peláez - September 16, 2016

    Hi Heidi, I just became a new mom 10 months ago and I noticed only 6 months after giving birth that I wasn’t really losing that mommy pooch. I was confused and did a little research on the matter. Turns out I have a 2-finger DR. I was shocked because it’s been my first pregnancy and my baby was born with an average weight and height. So I desperately ran to a Physiotherapist for help since I wasn’t really excited about getting surgery as well. My DR visibly improved after a 2-month therapy program but I’m afraid a sedentary job (I’m an EN<ES Translator) and a busy lifestyle is overturning all my hard work. I hope these exercises will help my condition. Also, I was wondering…I was told not to do any oblique twisting whatsoever for it could worsen the condition, is this true?

    Thanks for the vid! Can't wait to try this exercises!

    • Team Powell - September 16, 2016

      Hi Carolina: Since what works for each woman with DR can be different, it’s best to discuss any exercises with your healthcare team first. 🙂

  39. Rae - September 11, 2016

    Loved this post! I just wanted to give a shout out that everything you’re describing is PILATES yay! I’m a Pilates studio owner and have worked closely with pre and post natal clients as well as having twins and a singleton myself! It’s always so refreshing when mainstream fitness recognizes the importance of the Pilates foundational principles and begins incorporating them into their routines! Thank you for getting this vital information out there!!

  40. Mary - September 10, 2016

    Thank you for the video. I’ve been doing a lot of research the past few weeks after I discovered “Egore” protruding out of my belly one day. I have never had a child but at my top weight I was 312 lbs. I am now 230 and seriously beginning the building muscle journey of my weight loss. But when the small football size bulge showed up emerging out of my gap, when doing leg lifts, research began. My doctor has diagnosed me with a two finger space though it seems more with such a large protrusion during any ab work. So obviously crunches are out. I am eager to begin the exercises in your video as they look to be safe yet functional to strengthen my very weak transverse muscle. My posture has been out of alignment for many years so I know it won’t be overnight, but I’m tired of the extra bulge above my belly button that hangs over my pants even more than the extra skin hanging on the lower stomach. So to all your readers, DR is not just for the moms. Obesity can do the same thing to the body as a baby. I’m working on fixing 25 years of body abuse and I know this will get me on the right path. Thank you. Mary

  41. Christy - September 1, 2016


    This is a great article by the way! There are so many things out there, it’s hard to sift through everything, and determine which exercises are best, which are worth paying for, etc. In addition, there are some doctors (mine included) who don’t know much about the condition, which makes it all the more frustrating. My goal throughout this journey is to fix my issue without surgery. I first need to determine if diastasis recti is in fact what I have. I’ve been having trouble losing my “mommy tummy” – in the form of upper belly fat. My youngest turns 2 this month. I’ve lost 40 lbs, and I’m at a healthy BMI/weight, but still look pregnant. I’ve done the self test, and, to me, my gap doesn’t seem to be that wide, but more deep (my fingers fit past my knuckles). I also have the vertical “mound” when I activate my abs, is this actually my organs? I guess I’m wondering if there are any exercises that would benefit closing a deep gap, as opposed to a wide one? Thanks in advance 🙂

    • Team Powell - September 1, 2016

      Hi Christy: It would be best to discuss this with your healthcare team since every case of diastasis recti – and the correct treatment – can be different for each woman. 🙂

  42. Lizy - September 1, 2016

    Hi! Thanks so much for your post. There are a lot of doctors that don’t even know how to take care of this problem. I’ve been told that I can do whatever exercise. Which is very wrong! I have done lots of research on this topic. Great to have someone like you share your experience. I’m curious through, with your exercises how often do you do each one? Every day? How many times a week? Thanks for all you do and being a great role model. Because of wrong advice from specialists I. Afraid I might need surgery from making it worse.

  43. Bianca - August 29, 2016

    Aloha Heidi, thank you for your encouragement and for your exercise tips. I will try to do them. I have more than a 5 finger seperation. Had no idea it was a condition. Just knew I had a magic trick of making a hand disappear through my belly button after my 2nd child and got worse after my 3rd but failed pregnancy. It gives me hope That maybe I can have my body back. Every other area of by body seems to be tightening except my stomach region where I still look pregnant and I’m so not. I do crossfit as well but I’m not a crazy cross fitter. I’m all about the modifications sincere. I’ll be sure to try to substitute all the DR ab work outs for any other when I go to classes. Thank you again. I hope to send you good reports.

    Mahalo Nui. Aloha,
    Bianca ?

    • Bianca - August 29, 2016

      Don’t know how the word “sincere” got in there. That’s a typo. ???

  44. Kate - August 25, 2016

    Well, I’ve been doing the vacuum and pull in for quite some time but am looking forward to trying your exercises. After 8 births (9 pregnancies) I have a larger than 8 finger separation. I’m severely overweight but have lost almost 40 pounds (54 more to go) and my youngest is 15. I am not sure if exercise alone can deal with such a severe DR, but I’m willing to try.

  45. faye - August 17, 2016

    Hi, My OB just tells me not to lie flat on my back after the 3rd trimester and that, “since I’ve always been so active, it’s fine to do any pre-pregnancy work-outs during the pregnancy.” So my question, is can I do the 5 exercises during the pregnancy? My prenatal Chiropractor said to refrain from the same exercises you have mentioned, but didn’t impart any new exercise routines.

    • Team Powell - August 17, 2016

      Hi Faye: It’s always best to follow the recommendations of your healthcare team since they know your health history. And congratulations!

  46. R. Pyper - August 9, 2016

    Heidi, this is such a great and encouraging post! After having four kids (the last pregnancy was a full-term set of twins), I had DR so bad, and I was so frustrated.

    Based on recommendations from a sweet trainer and friend, I did exercises very similar to the ones you suggest here five times a week. After a year and a half (really!), the gap has noticeably gotten smaller and smaller. So stick with it, ladies! You can do it!

  47. S. Smith - August 8, 2016

    A few new DR exercises, thanks!!!!
    I have a 3 finger gap and my 3rd “baby” is 6, and I too don’t want to get surgery and am starting to lift a little heavier now and don’t want a hernia due to my gap. Any other ab exercises you recommend to have a variety?
    Also, in trying to avoid ab exercises that are counterproductive…besides sit ups and crunches…what others should I avoid?
    Example: I like to do side bends, in and outs, pulse ups, mason twists, mountain climbers, planks, bicycles, lay on my back and hold my feet 6 inches off the ground, hanging abs…..any of these make it worse?

    • Team Powell - August 9, 2016

      For any additional exercises, it would be best to chat with your healthcare team and then follow their recommendations since they know the extent of your DR and can work with you personally. What works for one woman could actually make the condition worse for another, and we certainly don’t want that! We wish you the best!

  48. Kelly - August 3, 2016

    This is SO. DANG. HELPFUL!! Thank you, Heidi for taking the time to create this post. I’m sure it took so much work but I really, truly needed this. I birthed 5 kids in 7 years, my youngest 3 were born in just 3 years and my core and pelvic floor are shot. The Internet has so much conflicting information regarding this. And it was easy to learn what NOT to do but it felt impossible to figure out how to correct my DR. So I had given up. Thanks a million times!! I’m so excited and starting on these immediately.

  49. BlushandPearlsBlog - August 2, 2016

    I agree – my obgyn never checked me for DR and didn’t mention it during my post-natal appointment. I actually learned about it from my sister in law and did my own research from there. I was lucky in that I was informed from the get go and made sure to do exercises that closed the gap before I moved onto traditional core exercises.

  50. Allie - August 1, 2016

    So, I just recently learned from a physical therapist that I have a moderate case of DR. My doctors never mentioned it and my last baby is now 10 years old! I have been doing boot camp and HIIT workouts for the last 4 years and now have a significant lower back injury as well as degenerative disk disease. The pT said it was exacerbated by having the diastasis recti.
    My question is after all this time, would it be possible to fix the DR or not? Iamin constant pain now with my back I am unable to do hardly any exercise. I’mso frustrated!

    • Team Powell - August 1, 2016

      Hi Allie: So sorry to hear about what’s going on! Since we’re not medical professionals, I’d chat with your physical therapist and he/she would be a great resource to help you know what you need to do to help your DR get better and what any possible outcomes may be, and he/she would be a great resource for knowing what could help your back issue also. We wish you the best!

    • A.K. - October 19, 2016

      I also found out from my P.T. about having D.R. My OBGYN never mentioned it and my baby is 3.5. I also have a lower back injury. If your P.T. can give you pelvic exercises it will help. In 3 months I’ve closed the bottom gap. Now I’m working on the top.

  51. Tasha - July 31, 2016

    I’ve seen so many posts regarding exercises you should do, but nothing is ever mentioned on time frame. How long should you do these exercises, or how will I know when I can go back to regular ab exercises?

    • Team Powell - August 1, 2016

      Hi Tasha: It would be best to consult with your healthcare team about these questions since each case of DR can be very different.

  52. Christi - July 27, 2016

    Heidi – how many days a week do you perform all of the exercises?

    • Team Powell - July 28, 2016

      Hi Christi: I believe Heidi’s does these daily. Or you could do them every other day too.

  53. whitney - July 27, 2016

    Hi Heidi,
    I have a 3 finger gap on the upper portion of my abs and a 2 finger gap at my belly button. I love the demonstrations and wanted to know if I should do additional moves for the upper portion of my abs or will these exercises help to close it as well?
    Thank you!

    • Team Powell - July 28, 2016

      Hi Whitney: These should work for all your abs, but you might want to talk with your healthcare team about what would be best for you since it can be different for each woman and then go from there.

  54. Monica - July 27, 2016

    This is great information! Are there any recommendations for pre-partum things we can do to avoid a potential DR issue, or does it help to do the same exercises Heidi already suggested?

    • Team Powell - July 28, 2016

      Hi Monica: These exercises can work for pre-pregnancy too! For during pregnancy, I’d talk with your healthcare team and then follow their recommendations.

  55. Karen - July 27, 2016

    Thank you Heidi, I have 4 children and did not notice my abs separating until after #4, I have always had flat abs after each pregnancy but #4 did me in , my abs are toned but not flat they kind of protrude a little so I look like I am always bloated and I have definite separation. I am excited to try these exercises and see if it helps.
    My question is , how do you continue to tone your abs without making the DR worse? You mentioned there are definitely some exercises that make it worse.
    Thank you for everything you do !!!! You are an inspiration

    • Team Powell - July 27, 2016

      Hi Karen: The exercises Heidi shared in this post can be done without making your DR worse, but I’d run them by your healthcare team first and then follow any recommendations they may have. We wish you the best!

    • Christi - July 31, 2016

      I’ve heard sit-ups and front planks can also worsen DR. (Side planks are ok.) basically anything that increases abdominal cavity pressure can worsen it, unless the muscles have been strengthened. That’s why Heidi mentions the weigh belt and exhaling when you lift, because even that action can increase abdominal cavity pressure. I practice exhaling and engaging the inner core muscles (transverse abdominus) when lifting my 2year old. One last note, most doctors don’t have a clue about this. Check with a physical therapist…there are even ones specially trained for these issues.

  56. Megan - July 27, 2016

    Thank you so much for this! before baby my stomach was always toned and flat. It’s amazing how flat my stomach gets just engaging those muscles now, once released, (its back to the baby bloat) as I call it 🙂 I am going to do these exercises every day and I hope to get the results I have been looking for. It’s also good to know that other ab exercises can make this condition worse, I didn’t know that. You always strive to help people and make them better. I love that about you, you truly have such a big heart and I hope you know that so many of us appreciate what you do!

  57. Hope Hatch - July 26, 2016

    What ab exercises should you do since we shouldn’t do the regulars….sit-ups, V-ups, etc in addition to the ones listed above?

    • Team Powell - July 27, 2016

      Hi Hope: These are the only ab exercises Heidi does anymore, and remember, you engage/work your core during other exercises too.

  58. Natalie Milton - July 26, 2016

    Mutusystem.com is a site I’d recommend anyone checking out regarding this topic of postpartum fitness and repairing a diastasis recti. It’s something I followed for over a year ( bought the fitness dvd) and it has made a difference to me. The founder is well educated and researched in this area too. There is a whole community that can be joined on facebook if you sign up.

  59. Carolyn - July 26, 2016

    Thank you so much for this.

  60. nancy - July 26, 2016

    Hi Heidi!

    Thank you so much for this post! The one thing I was really hoping you would cover would be what exercises to avoid during pregnancy. I was lifting before pregnancy, and I have continued on (32 wks, second child) during this pregnancy. I fear that some of my lifting may be worsening my diastasis recti. My midwife said I would need to see a physical therapist to correct my condition once this baby is born. I don’t want to give up lifting, but I also don’t want to make it worse. I would say I do the typical weight lifting/circuits – a variety of squats, lunges, leg extensions, deadlifts, bench pressing, rows, lat pulldowns, shoulder presses, back extensions, etc.

    I have avoided ab exercises since being told to not do any, but I know my abs are engaged in some of the lifting I do.

    Any thoughts or suggestions?


    • Team Powell - July 26, 2016

      Hi Nancy: It’s always best to discuss any pregnancy exercise programs with your healthcare team and then follow their recommendations since what is okay for one woman might not be okay for another. And congratulations on your pregnancy!

  61. Sarah I-R - July 26, 2016

    jThanks so much for this! I had my 6th blessing 10 months ago and the list of reasons you mentioned of why we get diastasis recti I fell into all 5 categories Lol! But I will definitely be implementing all these into my work out regimen! God Bless!

    • Team Powell - July 26, 2016

      Congratulations on blessing #6! That’s awesome!

  62. Lisa - July 26, 2016

    Thank you for this. A great way to help women.

    I had a c section 15 weeks and re starting fitness. Can i do these excercises without doig any damage?

    Thanks lisa xxx

    • Team Powell - July 26, 2016

      Hi Lisa: You’ll definitely want to check with your healthcare team first and then follow their recommendations. And congratulations on your new little one!

  63. Robyn - July 25, 2016

    Hi Heidi! Thank you for posting. I’m wondering at what point can you say your DR is “healed”? Is it possible or is it the goal that your abs reconnect with zero separation? Thanks!

  64. Lorraine Scapens - July 25, 2016

    Its great that Heidi is giving #Diastasisrecti the attention it requires as there is so much incorrect information on the web that many women are very frustrated. As someone who has specialized in this field for several years, all attention is a GOOD THING 🙂

    Its also perfect that Heidi has also acknowledged that some of her previous exercise have perhaps made things worse. Many women continue doing exercises such as crunches as they believe it will address the ‘Mummy Tummy’.

    Unfortunately there are many comments now in the fb post with incorrect information for mums, which can be quite scary as these women are NOT professionals yet convey their message as if they are.

    Something that is missing in the post is the importance of testing the depth of the connective tissue and overall strength and function of the core muscles so its not just about the width.
    A Diastasis does also not have to close for optimal function, so Mums don’t worry if yours does not close completely.

  65. Beth Jones - July 25, 2016

    Thank you for bringing attention to diastasis and getting the message of proper training and healing out there. If you ever do a follow up, I think it would be great to mention that seeking a consultation from a women’s health physical therapist can be be so helpful in managing this condition. Furthermore, there are fitness professionals, such as myself, who have actually invested a lot of time and money on continuing education specifically to work with pregnant moms to manage and prevent DR, and postpartum moms to help heal and return back to a level of fitness prior to pregnancy. My programs emphasize heavy weight lifting throughout pregnancy, and then a recovery program afterwards. And there is a great group of women similar to me who do the same. So many fitpros don’t know what to do with women suffering from DR. So again, thank you for getting this into the mainstream and educating women on how to heal! Hopefully more women will follow your advice on proper and progressive return to exercise to allow for healing and returning to true awesomeness!!

  66. Jessie - July 25, 2016

    Heidi~ Thank you for posting this! I am 9 weeks postpartum with twins (my second and third kids) and have MAJOR ab separation happening!! We’re talking almost 4 fingers width! I consider myself someone who was previously very active and in shape but was completely derailed when I was put on modified bed rest for most of my third trimester and am struggling to get my body back. I am also exclusively breastfeeding my twins which has me consuming a TON of extra calories a day to keep my milk supply up. Is there a healthy way to get the calories I need, while working out so I feel like myself again, without feeling gross? Carbs and sugar are great to a point and are effective but I am left feeling bloated and lethargic. Ultimately, feeding my babies is my first priority and if my body has to wait than that’s what will happen but I would love it if both could happen simultaneously. Any advice would be appreciated!!

    • Team Powell - July 25, 2016

      Hi Jessie: Here’s a post that outlines Heidi’s breastfeeding nutrition program, and I hope it can help (and be sure and run any nutrition programs by your doc first): http://heidipowell.net/2275. And congratulations!!!

  67. Jessica - July 25, 2016

    My son was born 2 years ago and I have had diastasis recti and ventral & umbilical hernia only getting worse his his birth. He was colicky baby and no time to exercise ?. Needless to say i just had my second hernia repair surgery, first one 1 month ago (but dr missed it) and second one TODAY. OMGOSH painful! I am so very eager to get back to working out (my mental and physical release). Another 4 weeks of NO lifting more than 10 lbs. boo!!!

  68. Jae - July 25, 2016

    HI Heidi, my problem is that once I stop flexing my core, my abs open up completely and I can stick my whole hand in there 🙁

  69. Kelly Howard - July 25, 2016

    I’m curious how soon after having a baby sound you start doing these? I’m pregnant with my 3rd now And I know I have it and j want to be proactive and help it quickly after this baby. Thanks

    • Team Powell - July 25, 2016

      Hi Kelly: I’d check with your doctor first and then follow his/her recommendations. We wish you the best with baby #3!

  70. Emily - July 25, 2016

    My sister has this and has been considering getting the surgery, but these are exercises that I don’t believe she’s done before so I am excited to share with her!

  71. samantha scott - July 25, 2016

    Thank you so much for posting this!! I learned of DR after my 3rd:/ I obsessed over it. There was so many different exercises, i got discouraged. Not knowing which ones work. This was very well explained and motivating. Thank you for all your time in putting this together. I know it will make a difference in my life.

  72. Anna - July 25, 2016

    what a great post! Thank you so very much for putting this together. There is very little on line regarding healing this condition through exercise that I have found! Thanks again and God bless!

  73. Nermin - July 25, 2016

    Hi heidi,

    My name is Nermin & i live in holland. 37 years old, divorced without 1 boy, 7 years old.
    I ADORE you and your huisband. Your disipline andere strength.
    Every day I promise myself to live healthy eat healthy but yet i always fail. I work 40 hours a week. Fulltime mom and reward myself with food. I wanna break this circle just dont know how. 1.64 m over 72.8 kg my belly is so fat. Is there a way to get inspired? Thank you for reading.

    Kind regards


    • Team Powell - July 25, 2016

      Hi Nermin: Thank you for your comment! Here’s a link that will tell you all about Chris and Heidi’s carb cycling program, and be sure and follow all the links within the post too (especially the part about promises): http://heidipowell.net/9060. You can do this!

  74. Shelby - July 25, 2016

    So my question is, how do you get defined abs while avoiding isolated ab workouts in order not to worsen your DR. I’ve been trying to close mine and it’s getting smaller but I’m losing all my ab definition I previously had

  75. Krista - July 25, 2016

    Thank you so much Heidi. This is unfortunately never talked about in the postpartum check ups. This needs to be part of educating women when they come in for the prenatal and postnatal visits! So many women present with incontinence or pain after birth and are told “that’s the way it is after having a baby” but it’s not! It can be fixed and healed. So thank YOU! – Krista mom of 4

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