Diastasis recti is a condition where weak abdominal muscles cause a ridge or line to form on the belly of the patient. The condition is most common among pregnant women who have had more than one pregnancy, and in newborn infants. Diastasis recti is not a dangerous condition, and it can be resolved either over time or with simple surgery.
Line in Women
One of the more obvious symptoms of diastasis recti is a noticeable line that runs down the patient's belly from just under the breastbone to just past the belly button. This line becomes more noticeable as the patient becomes more physically active, especially when they are engaging in activity that involves stretching the abdominal muscles.
Line in Infants
Newborn children can also show signs of diastasis recti because their abdominal muscles may not be developed enough to prevent the symptoms from showing. In infants the line associated with diastasis recti is very visible when the child tries to sit up from a lying position. However, as the child is lying down, the line may not be visible at all. It is not uncommon for this line or ridge to disappear as the abdominal muscles in the child develop.
Women who have had multiple pregnancies tend to show the symptoms of diastasis recti more than other women. This is because the muscles in the uterus have been stretched several times and excess skin has developed in the abdominal area just above the uterus. In the early parts of a new pregnancy, the excess skin may create a small pocket between the uterus and the abdominal wall that becomes evident as the pregnancy continues. The excess skin will protrude slightly out at the top of the abdominal cavity.
Advanced Pregnancy Symptoms
Women with a history of multiple pregnancies that show the early stages of diastasis recti may see the condition become worse as the pregnancy progresses. More severe cases of diastasis recti could see an outline of the uterus at the top of the abdominal wall, and in more severe cases of diastasis recti it is possible to see outlines of portions of the unborn child as well.
In most cases diastasis recti in both the mother and the infant will heal on its own. The mother may be given exercises to do after birth to help reduce the appearance of diastasis recti, and in some cases there may need to be surgery done if there is persistent pain. For the child the simple process of developing muscles as the child develops should erase any sign of the condition. In rare cases, the diastasis recti may develop into a hernia which can be resolved with surgery.