Diastasis recti is a condition that is sometimes seen among pregnant women, where a separation of abdominal muscles occurs. Here the rectus abdominis or the central muscle of the abdominal wall separates into two halves, a left and the right along the linea alba, the central bifurcating or midline of the larger muscle.
Sometimes this condition can also appear in new born infants, particularly those infants who are born prematurely or among babies of African descent. The abdominal muscle may not be fully developed or properly sealed along the midline.
When Diastasis recti occurs in pregnant women, this happens mainly due to the pressure put by the growing uterus upon the abdominal muscle and may be seen more often in women who have several children, due to the repeated stretching of the muscles of the abdomen.
Most often this condition appears rather like a ridge running down the abdomen. The ridge is more prominent when a woman strains than when her stomach muscles are relaxed. The ridge like structure may run from the breast bone down to the navel.
There could be a visible bulging of the uterus through the abdominal wall. It is usually seen later in pregnancy. If the case is severe, the shape of the baby also may be seen through the abdominal wall.
A physical exam is usually enough to confirm a diagnosis, however sometimes this condition can be mistaken for a hernia, so hernias should be ruled out to confirm diagnosis using an ultrasound.
This condition is mostly a cosmetic problem rather than anything that threatens health or life of a woman. It also presents no threat to the baby or the pregnancy. In many cases, there may be no treatment required to correct the problem and it may resolve on its own over time.
In other cases the problem may not resolve on its own and may continue over a longer period as is often the case in pregnancy related Diastasis recti. In such cases, physiotherapy may be required to correct the problem. Sometimes there could be complications such as hernias that occur as a result and this could require medical attention.
If a woman finds that the condition is disfiguring and something that she cannot comfortably live with, she may decide to exercise the option of cosmetic surgery or a tummy tuck to repair the problem.