(NEW YORK) — Ashley Tisdale is opening up about her experience with diastasis recti, a condition that affects pregnant and postpartum people.
In an Instagram post over the weekend, the High School Musical actress wrote that she’s spent the past year working on loving her body.
“Taking a moment to be present in my body and showing gratitude for it’s strength,” Tisdale wrote. “You guys know I had diastasis recti from being pregnant that really affected my confidence but doing things like yoga, pilates and my #EmsculptNeo ‘work outs’ that have gotten me back to feeling myself.”
Diastasis recti happens when the uterus stretches the muscles in the abdomen. It can cause the two large parallel bands of muscles that meet in the middle of the abdomen to become separated by an abnormal distance, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Tisdale, who is married to singer Christopher French, first opened up about her condition four months after giving birth to their daughter, Jupiter, in her Instagram story. Tisdale said she had been doing pilates, yoga and other workouts to help close the gap in her abdomen.
“I feel healthy and have found ways to strengthen my body that don’t drain me,” Tisdale said. “That’s what it’s all about.”
Tisdale’s personal trainer, Harley Pasternak, told ABC News the actress also focuses on getting 12,000 steps per day and does strength and resistance training most days of the week.
The majority of people who develop diastasis recti may feel a vertical bulge in the center of their abdomen or can feel the width of the muscles being further than two finger widths apart, according to Dr. Jennifer Ashton, ABC News chief medical correspondent and a board-certified OBGYN.
People with diastasis recti may also feel pain when they cough or lift something heavy.
“The good news is there is no impact on future pregnancies,” said Ashton, who said the condition still can be “really bothersome” for people. “It’s uncomfortable more than it’s dangerous.”
Describing who can be impacted by diastasis recti, Ashton said, “The short answer is literally anyone.”
Common factors that may increase the risk for developing diastasis include having multiple or back-to-back pregnancies, giving birth over the age of 35, giving birth to a large baby for the birthing person’s body size or giving birth to multiples, such as twins or triplets, according to Ashton.
When it comes to treatment of diastasis recti, Ashton said, “Prevention is so important.”
Ashton said strength training should be done prior to pregnancy as a way to strengthen the abdominal muscles and prepare them for giving birth.
“After pregnancy, the key is still strengthening but in a cat-cow type of way. You don’t want to do the classic sit-up,” said Ashton. “And if it is really bad, really bothersome and persists, surgical treatment is always an option.”
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