DRA occurs when there are changes in the elastic hormones in the connective tissue, increased stress put on the abdominal wall by the growing fetus, and the movement of abdominal organs. Other contributing factors include fetal size and number, number of previous pregnancies, placenta size, amount of amniotic fluid, amount of weight gain, length of torso and strength of abdominal muscles. Women with strong abs are likely more prepared to resist diastasis recti as ab exercise also increases strength and elasticity of linea alba. It is particularly important to train tranverse abs.
A bulge may appear in the abdomen where the separation occurs. This separation usually develops during the third trimester of pregnancy, however sometimes shows up in the second, or postpartum period.
DRA is fairly common and affects about 67% of pregnant women. 53% of women continue to see this separation in the immediate postpartum period.
Diastasis recti weakens the abdominal muscles and affects their function. The loss of trunk and pelvic stability, support in posture and abdominal viscera and compromise in respiration and trunk movement leaves to instability in the spine and pelvis. This leave the body more susceptible to injury.
It is not proven either way whether training core before pregnancy can reduce risk of developing DRA, however it is theoretically believed that women who exercise before and during pregnancy have stronger muscle activation and control, which reduces strain on the linea alba.
Are you free and clear to train core? You still have to adjust your core training during pregnancy, even if no diastasis recti has appeared yet. Here are some great, pregnancy safe core exercises if separation is less than 2 fingers and you do not experience any cramping or pain during these movements.