How to Self-Assess Your Abs After Pregnancy by Ali Handley


Congratulations you are a new mom and along with the new title comes a different body. Your postnatal body needs lots of TLC particularly your abdominal muscles that have experienced extensive amounts of change over the course of your pregnancy and during childbirth. To make room for your growing baby your abdominals had to separate and divide – this is called Diastasis Recti. Your first physical hurdle as a new mom is to heal and close the separation. But before you can heal your abs – you need to “assess the damage.” Learning how to self assess your abs is really important as it helps track your success and works as an excellent guide to ensure that you are progressing at the right pace and ready for the next phase of your recovery exercises

How to perform self-assessment of your Diastasis:

We measure Diastasis three ways – length, width and depth..

Look in the mirror – what is the appearance of the skin? Is there mottling? Mottling will appear like crepe paper

Safely get down onto your back (side first then roll over) with your knees bent, head down.


Begin to feel down the Linea Alba by gentle pushing into it with your index finger and middle finger together. Beginning at the sternum and go all the way down to just above your pubic symphysis.

What is the integrity of the connective tissue? Is there tone and resistance or can you push your fingers through.

Starting with your two fingers pushing into the Linea Alba just below the sternum – Nod your chin and lift your head a little off the ground. Do not try and engage your abdominals – leave them relaxed.

Can you push fingers through? Is there room to add a finger or two? If so repeat exercise with the additional fingers.

  1. Less than two fingers are considered normal – two fingers or more and this is considered significant and dysfunctional.

  2. Move down the body repeating the exercise above for each of the following sections – a little above the belly button, on the belly button, just below the button and just above the pubic symphysis.

  3. TIPS – Until you have healed the separation – these moves are NOT recommended – They will only make the separation bigger and slow down the healing process!

  4. No crunching

  5. No double leg lifts

  6. No planking

  7. Instead practice seated deep core breathing exercises that only target muscles of the deep core to close and heal your Diastasis. (Transverse Abdominus & Pelvic Floor Muscles)


Ali Handley is a New York based Pilates instructor, mother of two young children, and the founder of BodyLove Pilates. BodyLove is a dedicated online studio with a growing library of 250+ video workouts for pregnant and postnatal women to ensure they work out smarter, safer and more effectively during this important time in their lives. 

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