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Navigating Gestational Diabetes and Diastasis Recti

physical therapist treating diastasis recti
physical therapist treating diastasis recti

The pregnancy and postpartum period is a time of great body change. Growing a new human changes the new mom's body, especially at the belly.  It is very common to have a separation of the abdominal muscles (Diastasis Recti) during and after pregnancy, but is there anything might make this worse?  One study found that having gestational diabetes made pregnant women more likely to have a wider diastasis recti one year postpartum. 

What is Diastasis Recti? 

This is a normal condition of pregnancy in which the "6 pack" abdominal muscles become more separated at the connective tissue line between them (the linea alba or white line).  This is the body's way of making room for the baby to grow in the belly.  Pregnancy hormones help this to occur and it often improves in the weeks after delivery. 

What is Gestational Diabetes?

During pregnancy, a woman goes through a lot of hormonal and body changes.  Some women also have more difficulty keeping their blood sugars in check.  This means they have higher blood sugar and therefore develop transient diabetes related to being pregnant.  They often go back to normal sugar readings following childbirth. 

How do you check for gestational diabetes?

During pregnancy, your medical provider will likely have you do a fasting oral glucose tolerance test.  This involves drinking a certain amount of a sugar sweet drink and then measuring how much glucose (sugar) is in the blood. 

What can you do?

Follow your medical providers advice and get tested during pregnancy, and manage your blood sugar levels as they recommend including eating right.  Getting regular aerobic exercise can help keep your levels in check. After delivery a physical therapist can help you improve your diastasis with exercise.

Du J, Ye J, Fei H, Li M, He J, Liu Y, Liu L, Ye Y, Li J, Hou L, Xu Y, Zhang H, Zhang C, Li T. Relationship Between Gestational Diabetes Mellitus and Postpartum Diastasis Recti Abdominis in Women in the First Year Postdelivery. Phys Ther. 2023 Oct 3;103(10):pzad102. doi: 10.1093/ptj/pzad102. PMID: 37774365; PMCID: PMC10661657.

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