Abdominal wall separation (or diastasis recti) is a condition that affects over 60% of postpartum women. It has long been dismissed as a cosmetic issue - termed "mummy tummy" - leaving expectant and postpartum mothers without the tools to advocate for their health when they experience symptoms like lower back pain, constipation, pelvic floor dysfunction, urinary incontinence, and abdominal weakness.
For many women, the discomfort and dysfunction are accepted as "the price of motherhood." For others, the search for answers takes them to the internet where questions like, "what is diastasis recti, what can I do about it, and will my body ever go back to normal?", lead them down a rabbit hole of conflicting, implicitly biased, or outdated information. This and the sheer abundance of content on pregnancy and postpartum can leave women feeling overwhelmed and unsupported, which is what inspired OB/GYN Dr. Jaqueline Worth, of Village Obstetrics to co-author, The New Rules of Pregnancy, a modern pregnancy guide that "cuts through the noise to tell expectant mothers exactly what they need to know."
We were thrilled to be included in her book as a self-care protocol for the modern pregnancy and, in her words, "the perfect preparation for labor and postnatal recovery." So we sat down with Dr. Worth to talk about abdominal wall separation, obstetricians’ approach to it, and why she considers Every Mother workouts to be the best exercises for diastasis recti.
EM: What is diastasis recti?
Dr. Worth: I’m asked all the time, “what is diastasis recti [and what can I do about it]?” Because patients hear from their friends that it’s something that could happen to them.
Diastasis recti is the separation of the rectus abdominal muscles. There are different definitions but the simplest definition is more than two centimeters of separation. One study showed that almost 100 percent of moms at thirty-six weeks of pregnancy had diastasis recti. So this is something that does happen naturally. What’s really important is, does it stay, how do you minimize it happening, and how can you correct it after the pregnancy?
I’m often asked whether doctors are aware of diastasis recti and whether it can be solved with exercise.
I feel that OB/GYN training does not teach us these things, so this is something that we learned about from our patients. And until I started following Leah’s program, I was always terrified when patients asked me, “do I have diastasis?” I thought, oh, gosh, what is this thing? How can I detect it?
And what I love about Leah’s program is that it’s so clear, easy, and reassuring; it helps women not worry about what’s happening to their bodies. and [teaches them] to correct it in a really straightforward, easy way.
So I guess I would answer that most doctors are not so familiar with diastasis and don’t really spend much time [on it] because it’s not how we were trained. We were trained to deliver babies, not to look at muscles, so I think it’s a weakness in our training.
EM: Why do you recommend the Every Mother diastasis recti exercise program?
Dr. Worth: I feel that pregnant women can be overwhelmed with the demands [placed] on them. So, to give someone a clear, simple, and accomplishable goal that [they] can continue to work at overtime, feel good about, and see progress in, that’s what I want for my patients. And [the Every Mother diastasis recti exercise program - the only proven program] lays all that out in such a clear, happy, and understandable way.
At the first visit, I give patients a couple of basic recommendations, I talk about travel deadlines, nutrition, and exercise. In the past, mom’s eyes would glaze over, you know, “Exercise, yeah right. I’ll try. I’ll do my best.” So what I love about Every mother is that I can recommend exercise five to seven days a week for 30 minutes, exercise that you can talk through, that is not too intense. But I can also say, here’s this great program called Every Mother that you can log into on your phone, it’s very accomplishable. So it helps them get started because it gives them very simple tools to get that done.
Patients repeatedly tell me that they love the Every Mother program because they feel stronger, they push better, and they recover faster. I know this because when they come back for a second pregnancy and I don’t always remember what I’ve recommended in the past, I say, “Hey, there’s this great Every Mother program. I think you should look into it.” And they say, “Oh Dr. Worth, I already know about that. That helped me so much the first time.”
And often patients will ask me in the birth how the pushing went because they feel that the training they’ve done through Every Mother helped them, and they want my validation that it went well, and I’m like, oh yeah, your pushing was great.
Watch the full interview with Dr. Jaqueline Worth here!
To learn more about abdominal wall separation, how to safely strengthen your core during and after pregnancy, and the exercises to fix diastasis recti, join the EMbody Reclaim program - the only clinically program proven to resolve diastasis recti.
Every Mother unlocks a scientifically proven method to strengthen the body during pregnancy and rebuild it after birth, regardless of how long it has been since you became a mother. We’re a knowledge circle, a community, and a celebration— of the mother you’ve become, and the woman you’ve been all along. Learn more about the EMbody Program™ here.