Incidence of diastasis recti abdominis during the childbearing year

Phys Ther. 1988 Jul;68(7):1082-6. doi: 10.1093/ptj/68.7.1082.


This study was conducted to determine 1) the incidence of diastasis recti abdominis among women during the childbearing year and 2) the location of the condition along the linea alba. Clinicians have long noted its presence, prenatally and postnatally, but the magnitude of the problem is currently unknown. A cross-sectional design was used to test 71 primiparous women placed in one of five groups, based on placement within the childbearing year. A commonly accepted test for diastasis recti abdominis was performed. Palpation for diastasis recti abdominis at the linea alba was performed 4.5 cm above, 4.5 cm below, and at the umbilicus. Diastases were observed at all three places, but most often at the umbilicus. A significant relationship (p less than .05) was found between a woman's placement in her childbearing year and the presence or absence of the condition. Diastasis recti abdominis was observed initially in the women in the second trimester group. Its incidence peaked in the third trimester group; remained high in the women in the immediate postpartum group; and declined, but did not disappear, in the later postpartum group. These findings demonstrate the importance of testing for diastasis recti abdominis above, below, and at the umbilicus throughout and after the childbearing year.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Muscles*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Muscular Diseases / diagnosis
  • Muscular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Palpation
  • Physical Exertion
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / diagnosis
  • Pregnancy Complications / epidemiology*
  • Pregnancy Trimester, Second
  • Pregnancy Trimester, Third
  • Puerperal Disorders / diagnosis
  • Puerperal Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Umbilicus