21 answers

Advice on Split Abs After Cesarean

Hi there. I have a huge gap right down the middle of my rectus abdominus. We had an emergency c-section 11 months ago, so I didn't get back to exercising quickly! In fact, I am just now getting back in the gym this week. The gap is so wide in my abs that I can easily put a couple fingers in between the two muscles where the linea alba usually holds it together. Does anyone know if it would be unwise to do ab work at this point or would it actually benefit it? I can do core work just fine, but I don't have full ab capability- I need to use my elbows to sit up, etc. Any input would be great!

2 moms found this helpful

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My best friend had the same issue - she has used exercise to get it back (although it is not all the way back) She said polates and yoga were showed the best results. Even if you can't keep up in the beginning it will get better, she did!

I had the same thing after my c-section and had to have an abdominal incision repair (that included a mesh patch) to sew my abs back together again. You should see a dr.

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Hey, K.! Funny that this was the first question I saw. I was going to just call you and tell you this, but figured some others might be interested in the answer (and I myself needed to look it up to start getting rid of my own pooch sometime soon!) The pregnancy bodywork class I took this fall had some specific prescriptions for fixing diastasis recti - here's the info on abdominal exercises:

*Before* doing regular curl-ups or other abdominal exercises, you need to fix the separation. Doing regular curl-ups before the split in the muscles is repaired can actually make them separate further.

Modified curl-ups:
1. lie on your back on the floor with knees bent and feet on the floor.
2. do a pelvic tilt (flatten the curve in your lower back by posteriorly tilting pelvis - like the pilates "neutral spine")
3. cross your hands over the abdomen and grab the lateral borders of the rectus abdominus.
4. while breathing out, slowly raise your head while pulling your hands together.
5. stop before the abdomen starts to bulge.
6. inhale while returning slowly to start position.

Should be repeated daily, up to 50 repetitions, in sets of 10, until the separation is closed.

Hope that helps!

1 mom found this helpful

I would see your doctor about this...as said here it was your pregnancy that caused the vertical split of the abdominal muscles. But you say you had emergency c-sec? Is your incision vertical instead of horizontal at the bikini like? You may be able to correct that with surgery if it give you trouble.

Have you tried doing isometic exercises (where you don't actually move, but just contract or tighten the muscle) for your abs? I would probably start with isometrics, trying to minimize the gap in one stable position (commonly laying down in the traditional abs exercise position.) Once you can tighten the muscles to the point of minimizing the gap, then you can start adding an abdominal curl. When you add the abdominal curl, it simply be raising your head and maintaining the minimal gap in the linea alba. You can gradually do more of a curl/sit up as your muscles get stronger, maintaining the minimal gap the whole time. If your gap in the muscles becomes large, back off the exercise and do the previous level of difficulty that did not cause the gap to widen.
You could ask you obgyn to send you to a Physical Therapist for some muscle retraining, since your abdominal muscles are crucial in preventing injury to and supporting your back.

Hi K.,

It is common for women that have had a child to have separated abdominal muscles. Since your son is 11 months old, it should be safe to do ab excercises by now. Those muscles may be weak, because you haven't worked on them. They should get stronger once you work them.

You may want to consult a doctor to make sure that you do not have a hernia, before you start working out. Also, if you ever consider cosmetic surgery, the Abdominoplasty (Tummy Tuck) procedure consists of sewing the separated abdominal muscles back together in addition to the removal of the extra skin.

I am not a physician, but I do have medical knowledge. Hope this helps.


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When I became pregnant with my first baby my mom lent me a book "Maternal Fitness" by Julie Tupler which deals with this diastasis issue as well as other maternal fitness issues.

To quote: "Pregnancy naturally separates a mother’s outermost abdominal muscles to make room for her growing uterus. Called a diastasis, this separation does not close up in most new moms. With each pregnancy this separation gets larger, which is why women show earlier with each pregnancy.

When the muscles separate the connective tissue that joins them stretches sideways and becomes thinner. The mummy tummy is thus the protruding organs against this thin connective tissue. To lose the mummy tummy it is necessary to close this separation so the muscles are supporting the organs—not the thin connective tissue!"

You might want to check out her website www.maternalfitness.com to check out more info. She also has a book "Lose your Mummy Tummy" for after having a baby which has excercises to heal a diastisis.

Try pilates, but go easy.....

If you're really worried about it, call your ob/gyn.

Hi K.,
I had the same thing happen to me after cesarian, although I think it split just from pregnancy. I am an exercise physiologist and I work with physical therapist. It is safe and beneficial to do some ab work, but not all. Don't do any full sit-up. Do small crunches or even just pelvic tilts (pushing the small of your back to the floor while tightening your ab muscles and hold for 3-5 seconds). Here's the trick, try to hold your split muscle together while you are contracting. This will eventually bring the muscle closer together, however probably not solve your problem. Just always be aware of your muscles when your exercising. If something feels wrong, don't to it. It takes time and patience, don't over do it.


I have given birth to 6 kids, 3 of which were c-sections. Mine do the same thing, and in my case no amount of sit ups will ever make them go back. I'll require surgery, which is an option for me because I'm done with childbearing. However, if you are not done, surgery is not an option.

It won't hurt to do the exercises, but don't be suprised if it doesn't work. It happens sometimes.

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