Abdominal tenderness due to muscle separation

During pregnancy, your growing uterus stretches the muscles in your abdomen. This may cause the two large parallel bands of muscles that meet in the middle of the abdomen to separate. This separation, called diastasis, can also cause a bulge where the two muscles separate.

For most women, the condition is painless. Others experience some tenderness around the bellybutton. The muscle separation can also contribute to back pain.

The condition may first appear during the second trimester. It may become more noticeable in the third trimester. In subsequent pregnancies, it's likely to be worse. But the problem generally goes away after delivery.

■ Prevention and self-care for abdominal muscle separation

If abdominal muscle separation is causing a backache or back pain, a number of simple strategies can help make your back more comfortable (see also Backaches and back pain).

■ Medical care for abdominal muscle separation

Usually no medical care is needed for abdominal muscle separation. Your health care provider can evaluate whether the amount of muscle separation is more than usual. He or she may suggest ways to remedy the separation after your baby is born.

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