The purpose of the PhD project is to investigate diastasis recti abdominis in women after birth. The condition affects a significant number of women during the antenatal- and postnatal period. Today there is a strong focus on the pregnant woman's appearance, especially through social media, but it is scant knowledge on risk factors, its consequences for low-back- and pelvic girdle pain and the effect of treatment.
Postpartum exercise and diastasis recti abdominis
This PhD project has four research questions;
1. How do postpartum women perceive their health, appearance and function of their body and abdomen?
2. What is the acute effect of different abdominal- and pelvic floor exercises on inter-recti distance in postpartum women with diastasis recti abdominis?
3. Do women with diastasis recti abdominis have weaker abdominal muscles and higher prevalence of symptoms of low back-and pelvic girdle pain and pelvic floor dysfunctions e.g. urinary incontinence, anal incontinence or pelvic organ prolapse?
4. What is the effect of abdominal muscle training on inter-recti distance and prevalence of diastasis recti abdominis?
Study 1: This descriptive cross sectional study includes 600 primiparous women six months postpartum attending a strategic number of Norwegian Child Health Clinics in Oslo and Akershus. All women will respond to a web-based questionnaire.
Study 2: This experimental cross-sectional study will use 2D ultrasound to assess inter-recti distance (2 cm above and below the umbilicus) and the acute effect of different abdominal- and pelvic floor exercises in 36 postpartum women with diastasis recti abdominis.
Study 3: The same women participating in study 2 will constitute the case group in this case control study. The controls without diastasis recti abdominis will be age and parity matched with the cases. Web-based questionnaires, 2D ultrasound measurements of inter-recti distance and muscle strength tests will be used in the clinical assessments.
Study 4: In this assessor, blinded parallel group randomized controlled trial, a sample size of 35 women in each group is estimated. The intervention starts 6 months postpartum and will last for three months. The intervention group will be taught an abdominal muscle training program based on findings in study 2. Web-based questionnaires, 2D ultrasound measurements of inter-recti distance and muscle strength tests will be used in the clinical assessments.
Results will be available in September 2021