How Long Does It Take To Heal Diastasis Recti [The Honest Truth]

Do you want to know how long it will take you to heal from diastasis recti?

You’re in the right place.

In this post, you will learn:

  • how to tell if your abdominal separation is severe,
  • how long it takes to heal diastasis recti naturally (or with exercise) and
  • if diastasis recti can be fixed years later.

Let’s dive right in.

how long does it take to heal diastasis recti cover image

Disclaimer

***READ FIRST***

Although I am a doctor, I am not your doctor. This information is for informational purposes only and should not substitute the advice from your healthcare professional. All kinds of exercise and dietary changes are potentially dangerous, and those who do not seek counsel from the appropriate health care authority assume the liability of any injury which may occur. Please read my full Disclaimer for more information. Also, this post may contain affiliate links: meaning I may receive a commission if you use them.

Ok, moving on.



How long does it take to heal Diastasis Recti?

In general, it can take anywhere from 6-12 months after delivery for diastasis recti to heal completely.

With that said, everyone’s situation is unique, and some separations are more severe than others.

You may heal quicker than 6 months, or you may still need more time despite being 12 months postpartum.

That is okay!

Never compare yourself to others and focus on your own journey.

When is Diastasis Recti considered severe?

There are no clear cut guidelines on how to diagnose severe diastasis recti, but many experts agree that you have severe DR if:

  • your abdominal separation is as wide as three or four fingers, and/or
  • it causes significant protrusion aka bulging of your abdominal organs
  • you are experiencing lower back pain related to your DR.

If you aren’t experiencing any of the above, then your ab separation is likely not severe.

Does Diastasis Recti get better On Its Own?

Diastasis recti can get better on its own in many postpartum women. In fact, one study showed that more than half of postpartum women had resolution of their separation by 6 months.

If your diastasis does not resolve spontaneously, the first-line treatment option is conservative management.

Most experts agree that a trial of exercise and weight loss can be beneficial.

But before you try to exercise, it is important to:

1st line treatment of diastasis recti is exercise and weight loss

Is Diastasis Recti Permanent?

Diastasis recti is not permanent in the majority of postpartum women.

One large study of over 300 women found that almost 70% of them had a resolution of diastasis at 12 months postpartum.

In addition, many women find that doing DR-specific exercises can be beneficial in the healing process.

The good news is, many women can begin exercising as early as 6 weeks postpartum!

You can check out my DR exercise program to begin strengthening your deep core muscles at home today!

If you do not notice any improvement in symptoms after 6 months of core building exercises, you may need to speak to your provider and explore further options.

Can Diastasis Recti Get Worse?

Yes, diastasis recti can definitely get worse if you:

As always, get clearance from your doctor before you do any exercise postpartum as starting exercise too soon can also have adverse outcomes and may worsen your gap.

Can you heal Diastasis Recti years later?

Yes, you can fix diastasis recti years later.

As with all types of exercise, it is never too late to start.

In this situation, it is important that you start slow, especially if you have never trained your abdominal muscles before.

It’s always easier to work your way up instead of starting too aggressively, too soon.

I have an entire post on abdominal exercises you could perform as a beginner to start healing your diastasis recti years later.

yes- diastatsis recti can be healed later in life

What is the fastest way to heal Diastasis Recti?

The fastest way to heal your diastasis recti will involve:

Healing your diastasis will take time. Expect to spend at least 6 months to accomplish your goal.

This is not an overnight process.

Please, be patient, and do not try to rush this process!

How can I fix Diastasis Recti naturally?

As mentioned before, diastasis recti does have the potential to heal on its own. Meaning, you don’t actually have to do anything.

Studies have shown that 50-70% of women may have complete resolution spontaneously by 6-12 months after delivery.

As your uterus shrinks back down to its pre-pregnancy size, the rectus abdominis muscles will no longer be stretched, and have the ability to come back together.

With that said, I recommend that you strengthen your core muscles anyway- as you can always benefit from a stronger midsection!

How Can I Fix Diastasis Recti Years Later?

The best way to begin fixing your abdominal separation years later is to start an exercise program dedicated to strengthening the deep core muscles.

It is important that you do these exercises at least three times per week.

Let’s go over the two simplest exercises you can start.

2 Simple Diastasis Recti Exercises You Can Do At Home

Before you start an exercise program for diastasis recti it is important that you receive medical clearance from your doctor.

Seriously. This is important!

Cleared?

Perfect. Let’s get started.

If you have never engaged in exercise before, ideally you want to start low and go slow.

First, there are three rules you need to follow along with two exercises.

Rule #1

The very first thing that you need to learn is how to align your spine properly.

When doing all core exercises, it is important that you posteriorly tilt your pelvis.

This exercise, which is known as posterior pelvic tilts, will help you to activate your deep transverse abdominis muscles while improving your posture.

Here’s how it looks.

posterior-pelvic-tilt

You basically want to flatten your low back against the ground and engage your core muscles. Hold this contraction for a few seconds, release, and repeat.

While holding the contraction, you can also engage your pelvic floor muscles.

Rule #2

Next, it is important that you breathe correctly.

diaphragmatic-breathing

As you inhale, your shoulders should NOT move, nor should your chest rise.

Instead, your belly should get bigger, and the sides of your abdomen should expand.

This is known as diaphragmatic breathing.

Diaphragmatic breathing is important in teaching you how to activate your core while allowing your lungs to expand fully.

Inhale slowly for 3-5 seconds, hold the air for 3-5 seconds, and slowly exhale for 3-5 seconds as you contract your core muscles.

Rule #3

And lastly, it is very important that you do not perform any exercise that causes pain, discomfort, or makes your separation worse.

When is Diastasis Recti considered closed?

Diastasis recti is considered closed when the separation is smaller than 2 finger widths wide.

You can do this yourself with the modified curl-up test.

Remember, this isn’t an overnight fix.

It will take time, so you must remain patient.

How to Check For Diastasis Recti

To check for diastasis recti, you will need to get into the modified curl-up position as shown below.

You will then check the amount of separation between your abdominal muscles by placing your fingers around your belly button.

modified curl up position: brittany on her back curling her upper body slightly as she places her fingers in her abdomen

Interestingly, there is no standard for diagnosing diastasis recti and it is also not clear how much separation is considered normal vs abnormal.

Most experts would agree, that anything more than 2 and a half fingers’ worth of separation is considered abnormal.

To learn more, check out my post, How to Tell If You Have Diastasis Recti.

Lastly, it is important to ensure that you also don’t have an umbilical hernia as well.

Other Related Questions

Can you fix diastasis recti with exercise?

Exercise can help improve diastasis recti, but there is no guarantee that it will fix it completely.

Nevertheless, it is a great first-line treatment option that will strengthen your ab muscles regardless.

How many times a day should you do diastasis recti exercises?

Diastasis recti exercise should be done once per day and at least three times per week.

The goal is to gradually strengthen all of the muscles that make up your abdominal wall over time.

Does walking help diastasis recti?

Walking does have the potential to help diastasis recti as you need to actively engage your core muscles to keep your spine upright and neutral.

Just make sure to walk with proper posture by:

  • minimizing any anterior pelvic tilt,
  • ensuring that your shoulders are not rounded forward, and
  • that your head does not protrude forward.

Either way, walking is an amazing form of exercise that you should do on a regular basis anyway.

Will losing weight help diastasis recti?

Losing excess weight can be beneficial for healing your diastasis and for improving symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction (urinary incontinence) as well.

In general, it is always a good idea to lose excess fat and try to get as close to your ideal weight as possible.

Can a tummy tuck fix diastasis recti? When should it be repaired?

An abdominoplasty (aka tummy tuck) can fix diastasis recti by placing permanent sutures in the fascia and connective tissue of your abdominal wall to close the separation.

You should consider repair if:

  • more than 6-12 months have passed and there is no improvement in your symptoms,
  • you have lost weight and engaged in at least 12 weeks of exercise without any improvement, and/or
  • you notice significant protrusion of your abdominal organs.

A tummy tuck is performed by plastic and reconstructive surgeons.

Diastasis recti surgery isn’t without its risks though. Make sure to get a thorough understanding of the risks and benefits to determine if it’s right for you.

A Complete Diastasis Recti Exercise Program (Start To Finish)

If you want to follow a complete 6-week DR-specific workout program that incorporates 100 safe exercises you can perform at home, check out my book below.

You do not need any level of experience to start and all exercises have easier and more difficult variations if necessary.

100 exercises-for-diastasis-recti-pdf

Final Words On How long it will take to heal your Diastasis Recti

Diastasis recti is caused by a midline separation of your linea alba.

Unfortunately, this common condition takes a considerable amount of time to heal.

Knowing which exercises to perform and which ones to avoid can potentially help in the closure of your abdominal muscles.

The most important thing is that you remain patient and not rush the process.

Now I want to hear from you.

How long did it take you before you saw improvement in your stomach separation?

What did you find to be most helpful?

Let me know by commenting below.

Related Posts On Diastasis Recti Postpartum


Get Four Free Workouts To Help Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor & Heal Your Mommy Tummy!


brittany-robles

Brittany N Robles, MD, MPH, CPT

Brittany Robles is a full-time OBGYN, a NASM certified personal trainer, and health & fitness, expert. She holds a Masters of Public Health degree in maternal health with a special interest in exercise and nutrition. She is also the co-author of The White Coat Trainer. Learn more about her here.



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10 thoughts on “How Long Does It Take To Heal Diastasis Recti [The Honest Truth]”

  1. I am a 61 year old man and my physician has been looking for the cause of my abdomen
    pain for 24 month. I had a RH Ingwenal hernia repaired 14 month ago and no one saw how
    bad this was until a couple of weeks ago. I did the test to see how bad it was and it is
    about four fingers wide. I have been to ER twice over pain. When I went last week to ER
    in Indianapolis the prescribed a abdomen binder. My wife works for IU Hospital and
    carries insurance but they said they won’t pay for plastic surgeon to fix it. The binder helps with the pain and it still gets worse in the afternoon. I can’t go to the office and
    the movement after a few hours causes more pain. What do you recommend?

    1. Brittany Robles, MD, MPH, CPT

      Hi Miles!

      Thank you so much for your comment. Regarding your diastasis recti, the abdominal binder should definitely help with the pain as it acts to keep the core muscles tight. Unfortunately the pain tends to get worse as the day goes on as your core muscles are needed to perform so many activities of daily living. Have you attempted any type of exercise core training? If not I recommend you start with the most basic exercises I have listed in level 1, just make sure your doctor says it is okay to do so!

  2. Postpartum mama of 5 months here! I’ve discovered with the diagnosis from my midwife that I have a pretty significant DR.

    With that being said, I’ve experienced the range of symptoms and more with digestion issues etc. and pelvic pain. Is this grounds for going straight to surgery to fix? Or am I still able to complete physical therapy to see how far it gets me? I understand with this much trauma to the abdomen that it’ll definitely take time to heal!

    1. Brittany Robles, MD, MPH, CPT

      Hi Savannah,

      Thank you for your comment!

      Rarely do I recommend surgery as first line treatment- I generally recommend a conservative approach which includes physical therapy/core building.

      As long as you are cleared by your doctor you should be able to start a gentle exercise routine to strengthen your abdominal muscles. If after six to twelve weeks you have not noticed any improvements then I think you could speak with your doctor about next steps.

      Hope this helps!

  3. Good evening, mom
    Of four kiddos in five years. I think I have this as well as my pcos. How do you fix this when the insulin resistance pcos is making it hard to lose weight? I’m at a loss and I just wanna feel normal. I’m 5’2 and 190 pounds thanks to the extreme weight gain I had from January to now. (50 pounds)

    1. Brittany Robles, MD, MPH, CPT

      Hi Emily,

      Thank you so much for you comment and congratulations on your fifth child!

      To fix your diastasis recti, you should start with gentle diastasis recti safe exercises that will begin to strengthen and rebuild your core.

      I have a list of 100 exercises that you could find with photos and descriptions here: https://postpartumtrainer.com/diastasis-recti-exercises/

      Start with level 1 and work your way up.

      As far as the weight loss, it definitely can be difficult to lose weight with PCOS but try your best to eliminate highly processed, empty calorie foods like: soda, juice, other sugary drinks, candy, cookies, white bread, fast food, processed meats, etc and go for nutrient dense whole foods which will keep you satisfied and provide your body with all the micro and macronutrients it needs. Also make sure you stay hydrated with water.

      Hope this helps!

  4. Hi , I have a DR from last 3.5 years after the birth of my second baby . I am 45 years and my muscles are weak. I tried few excecise recommendated by physiotherapist but did not do regularly. Can it still be treated with exercise. My tummy is very much bulged and looks awkward.please suggest exercise which I can do to heal it without surgery. TIA

  5. Hi Brittany,
    I’m almost 6 months postpartum and was diagnosed with DR of 3+ fingers.
    I’m supposed to do the exercises given to me by my PT, but I’m not able to keep it as a regular habit. Any suggestions on how to stick to doing these exercises every day 3 times/day? Thank you

    1. Brittany Robles, MD, MPH, CPT

      Hi Gabby,

      Thank you so much for your comment.

      Unfortunately making exercise a habit is one of the biggest things moms struggle with.

      The biggest thing I always recommend is to simply do what you can!

      Something is always better than nothing. Getting into the habit of exercising is always more important than making sure you are following a program perfectly.

      I would suggest creating a schedule for yourself, where you block out dedicated time to do some of the exercises. Even if its just 5-10 minutes.

      Doing it early in the morning, as soon as you wake up is a good place to start.

      Then try and find two other times during the day where you can do something, even if it’s not the whole workout.

      This is the key to making a habit stick. Breaking it down into small manageable chunks.

      I hope this helps.

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