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How does pregnancy affect the stomach muscles?

Arthur W. Perry, MD
Plastic Surgery
Everyone develops diastasis recti after pregnancy. That's a big, fancy medical term that describes the drifting apart of the rectus muscles, (your six-pack ab muscles) after expanding during pregnancy.

The condition is physiological, not pathological. That means that it is normal and expected. It's sort of the cost of doing business for your body. During pregnancy, the muscles drift to the sides (laterally) to make room for the developing fetus. It's kind of like suspenders on a man who gains weight - say from 150 to 250 pounds - the suspenders drift to the sides.  After pregnancy, the muscles do migrate back to the middle, as the skin shrinks and pressure inside the belly decreases. But they never quite reach the midline, as they were pre-pregnancy.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.