Is constipation making my diastasis recti worse?

Diastasis Recti is associated with many other postpartum complications, including low back pain, urinary incontinence, ab weakness, pelvic floor dysfunction, and yes, constipation.

Stephanie Stamas, PT, DPT, ATC, PRPC
Stephanie Stamas, PT, DPT, ATC, PRPC
Mom of a 2yo and 4yo. Doctor of Physical Therapy. Pelvic Floor Expert.
Last updated
January 26, 2023

Diastasis Recti is associated with many other postpartum complications, including low back pain, urinary incontinence, ab weakness, pelvic floor dysfunction, and yes, constipation. 

Unfortunately, constipation can also exacerbate diastasis recti, so getting it under control is important. If you’re struggling to fully empty your bowels, you’ll often strain or bear down on the toilet. This not only wreaks havoc on your pelvic floor, but it creates excessive bulging pressure in your abdomen that can over time worsen diastasis recti. 

Now, you don’t need to fear an occasional extra push on the toilet. But if you’re constantly straining, over time this will have a negative effect on your body. Not only can it impact diastasis recti, but it can contribute to pelvic floor issues, including pelvic pain, incontinence, prolapse, and hemorrhoids. 

So what do you do if you need some extra help on the porcelain throne? There are 4 tips that can help you out.

1. Position yourself for success

If you’re sitting on the toilet with a tucked tailbone, you’re already working against yourself. Roll your pelvis slightly forward to improve the opening of the anal sphincter. You’ll also want to have both your feet firmly planted on a step stool, about 12 inches off the floor. Lean forward from your hips without hunching through your back and rest your forearms on your thighs.

2. Use your breath

When you take a breath in, your abdomen expands and your pelvic floor opens up. When you exhale, your abdomen and pelvic floor shorten. Knowing this, you should coordinate a gentle bearing down with your inhalation, not exhalation. This helps to keep the door open. 

3. Move

Movement is great for getting your poo to progress forward. You can do pelvic tilts on the toilet, or even get up off the toilet to do some squats or high knees.

4. Press into something

Pushing into something can be very helpful to stabilize yourself on the toilet and generate pressure on your abs without straining. You can push into your thighs, the wall in front of you, or pull down on a towel on the towel rack.  

Water intake, diet, and exercise also play huge roles. You can learn more about those in this article. 

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