From Bump to Baby Wifey's Black Book

Bye Bikini, Hello Diastasis Recti!

It all started with some sharp pains under my ribs whenever Leroy pressed onto me when I was lying down. After several incidents, a trip to the General Practitioner (GP) revealed something unexpected.

It’s been some time since the doctor’s diagnosis of Diastasis Recti, so pardon me if some details are fuzzy! #momsbrain

Singapore mum bloggers fashion models
#throwback to the time I was modeling for Mondays Sundays, getting styled with fashionable accessories. Staying active during pregnancy is great, but being mindful about the core muscles can help with avoiding Diastasis Recti… which I didn’t know!

Assessing my stomach and abdomen at the clinic for pains

The female GP told me to lie down so she could check on the area of pain. But before she got down to pressing, she gave my unevenly shaped tummy strange looks.

She’s a mother too, and I felt a tinge of embarrassment and annoyance for having to receive such looks. After 2 kids, washboard abs aren’t gonna happen.. well, okay, except for those who are super disciplined or are able to splurge on aesthetics and/or fitness services.

But I digress.

She started asking me questions about the shape of my abdomen area, how long this state had been, and when I delivered my second child.

Her concerns?

That lumpiness around my belly button seemed to be a result of collapsed stomach muscles from the insides!

WHATTTTT??? After being shockingly diagnosed with Pubic Symphysis right after birthing Leroy, I ain’t ready for another body scare, please!

Narrowing down on her suspicion, she promptly wrote a referral letter to consult a specialist. An appointment was promptly arranged with Prof. Wong Wai Keong, a senior doctor in General Surgery, at the Singapore General Hospital.

My first appointment with the specialist at the Singapore General Hospital to assess Diastasis Recti after pregnancy

Being at the Singapore General Hospital brought on a flush of emotions. My late Grandma was in and out of the hospital during her last years, and it was an emotional memory. I had to tell myself that this visit was only a preliminary check, and everything else was simply left to fate.

I waited for my queue number and entered Prof. Wong Wai Keong’s room to meet him for the first time. Seeing a specialist always makes me nervous – both psychologically and financially – the fear of the unknown health condition, as well as the fear of the medical bill! HAHA! Yikes.

So I re-enacted the dialogue between the female GP and I… and why I ended up at the hospital. He did the same by asking me to lie down so he could check on the pain as well as the suspicion for collapsed stomach muscles.

He was absolutely certain about the collapsed stomach muscles (BIG SOBS!) and promptly diagnosed it as Diastasis Recti.

What in the world is Diastasis Recti??

I’ve never heard of it, but the doctor said I could have done certain things to reduce my risk of getting Diastasis Recti when I was pregnant (?!?!). Why didn’t anyone tell me about this!? :(

Now that things are cast in stone, a full recovery is pretty slim unless I was thinking of aesthetic procedures to tighten those loose stomach walls and muscles. A Diastasis Recti surgery is similar to a tummy tuck (abdominoplasty), and that means seeing the plastic surgeon!

Interestingly Thankfully, the ultrasound done to investigate the sharp pains turned out fine. But that also means there were no concrete answers to the pain. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not… Oh well, guess I’ll just observe and see how things go.

diastasis recti pregnant mum Singapore
Who knew commemorating my baby bump could be this fun with belly painting? Definitely clueless about Diastasis Recti when I was pregnant!

What causes Diastasis Recti? How can Diastasis Recti be prevented?

Can it really be prevented? Perhaps not totally since no one can completely control what happens to our body during pregnancy!

According to BabyCenter, women who are trying to conceive can begin with core strengthening exercises in a bid to avoid Diastasis Recti. For pregnant mums in the first trimester, you can continue some of these exercises, as recommended and approved by your gynaecologist.

Prof. Wong Wai Keong explained to me that Diastasis Recti happens when our stomach tissues are stretched, and this condition is further aggravated by carrying heavy things.

Naturally, pregnant mums are susceptible to Diastasis Recti since our wombs and organs expand/shift/get squashed to accommodate a growing baby.

How would it be possible NOT to carry the kids? Sigh.

prenatal exercise for pregnant mums diastasis recti
Here’s a pregnant me, trying out Prenatal Pilates at Breathe Singapore. So thankful for the session of free workout that I’d won at mama Justina Tey’s contest back then. Guess what? Both of us delivered on the SAME DAY, in the SAME HOSPITAL! Her number 4 and my number 2 were born on Chinese New Year, and share the same birthday! :P

Interestingly, when I told my bestie about my condition, she had heard of it through the doctors in London. As a mum herself, the health care providers there advised pregnant mums on how they should get up from bed with a big belly. This helps to prevent mums from getting Diastasis Recti during pregnancy.

In fact, the “right way” for pregnant mums to get up from bed while lying down, is to first, turn to the side then sit up. Sitting up straight from a lying down position adds stress to the stomach muscles which are already stretched by the belly, and that in turn paves the way to Diastasis Recti.

Ahhhhhh… I wished I knew that during both pregnancies! Perhaps I could have avoided this condition altogether! The lack of such knowledge in Singapore is disappointing! :(

Can patients with Diastasis Recti recover completely?

In fact, I’ve nearly forgotten about my condition since getting diagnosed! I was also consciously trying to add exercise into my lifestyle by attending some of the free fitness classes organised by the Health Promotion Board (HPB).

I’ve since stopped going for yoga, piloxing, Kpop, and HIIT, only because a friend casually asked about my condition. It strucked me that patients with this abdominal condition should not be doing regular yoga when down with Diastasis Recti as we shouldn’t aggravate our core muslces! Ahhh… That’s #momsbrain there!

Well, again in October 2018, when I attended a Yoga class with my colleagues, that I remembered about my condition again! #momsbrain

But it’s all good. For now.

Diastasis Recti pregnany treatments – are they available? What can mums like me do?

I made an appointment to follow up with Prof. Wong on my condition recently. While he didn’t have exact measurements of the gap (he uses his fingers and could SEE the split. SIGH!) between my stomach muscles, I’m glad he gave the green light to say I could resume a “normal” active life with fitness classes.

Of course, we should also always listen to our bodies during exercise. My core muscles are nearly non-existent – I ain’t trying sit-ups and crunches since Dr. Wong did tell me to avoid those during my first visit.

Although BabyCentre mentioned that there is still hope of improving Diastasis Recti conditions even after several years from the last pregnancy and childbirth… but until then, the condition will not get better unless I go for “physiotherapy” sort of workout with fitness professionals who understand and know about Diastasis Recti.

Just hoping it doesn’t get worse since slackened muscles deteriorate over time. Until then, goodbye bikini-ready bod… Or, perhaps I should consider a structured exercise approach to improve Diastasis Recti. Or, how about getting that surgery done to fix my split abs? Ah, but the idea of a surgery sounds like pain on my body and my pockets.

Do you know another mum who has Diastasis Recti too? If you’ve tips on improving this condition, I’d love to hear from you!

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