Expert Advice

Expert Advice: Postpartum Diastasis Recti Can Be Fixed Without Surgery!

Let’s be honest! Many mummies wish our postpartum bodies can revert to its pre-pregnancy shape and state.

The truth is, there are permanent body changes after pregnancy. However, postpartum conditions like Diastasis Recti (DR) and Incontinence, can be fixed or improved. That awkward postpartum mum tum pooch, or peeing when we sneeze, laugh or exercise… many of us assume those cannot be healed! Or, only can be tackled by going under the knife!

doing Embody diastasis recti treatment at Orchard Clinic
After over 25 Embody sessions to fix my Diastasis Recti, the 4.4cm gap is now at 2.6cm! Recovery is possible without pain or surgery!

If you’ve been reading my blogazine or following me on Instagram and Facebook, you’d know that I was medically diagnosed with Diastasis Recti after having kids. I’m also undergoing treatments to heal Diastasis Recti, although I’m into my 9th year with the separated abdominal muscles. YES! There’s hope for recovery by fixing DR even years later. Logically, if treatment had been sought earlier, the recovery time to fix my Diastasis Recti would be quicker too.

No more guesswork now! Let’s hear it from the expert who is helping women and mums to address various postpartum body conditions and post-menopausal concerns! Meet Cheryl Han, the co-founder and Principal Consultant of Orchard Clinic. This female-centric centre offers medical-grade machines and therapies for women’s postpartum body recovery and pelvic floor concerns. Combining FDA-approved devices with floorwork exercises for common conditions such as Incontinence, Diastasis Recti, Skin Laxity and more, Orchard Clinic’s solutions are alternatives to surgery.

Many mummies have also asked me questions like – How did you know that you have Diastasis Recti? Did you do anything to close the gap? During our IG Live session (click to watch!), more questions came in prior so Cheryl and I have answered them all! Fret not if you’ve missed it! Read on to find out what other mummies are asking about Diastasis Recti and the non-invasive treatment options in Singapore!

Interview on postwith Cheryl Han of Orchard Clinic
Cheryl Han, Co-founder and Principal Consultant of Orchard Clinic Singapore.

What is Diastasis Recti? How do we tell if we have Diastasis Recti?

Cheryl: Diastasis Recti means separation of the rectus abdominis muscles (or, our abs). 99.9% of mums have Diastasis Recti during pregnancy as hormones cause changes allowing the body to accommodate the baby. The muscles separate while the linea alba, the connective tissue in the middle of both side, stretches as a result. For most mummies, their gaps close up and heal naturally on their own, healing after 2 – 3 months after pregnancy. If those connective tissues don’t close up after delivery, a Diastasis Recti separation is measured at 2.7cm (about a 3-finger gap). To find out, you can place your fingers at your abs to measure the width. Some have a more severe Diastasis Recti condition e.g. heavier babies, having twins, multiple pregnancies, genetic factors like skin quality as it contributes to healing.

What happens during the body assessment at Orchard Clinic?

Cheryl: A good time to come in for a check is about 2 months postpartum. At Orchard Clinic, we do a 3-point assessment for ladies. Our consultants will check for presence of Diastasis Recti by measuring the width of the separated abdominal muscles, the depth of the gap and the length of the separated abs. That way, the severity of the condition can be noted. Also, we check the strength and resistance of the pelvic floor muscles (vagina laxity), as they weaken with natural birth and the lack of engaging those muscles. We do a check to see if mummies have organ prolapse too, as some of them are not aware about the severity of this condition when their organs are hanging out of the vagina. This means they will need daily management ways to intervene so that they can lead a regular lifestyle. This condition usually comes with incontinence.

Is my Diastasis Recti condition very bad? What are some of the measurements some of the patients have?

Cindy: My Diastasis Recti measurement was at 4.4cm and I’m at Type 5. I’ve also left it for a long time, with my daughter turning 9 this year. I’ve gone through another pregnancy and sometimes, I forget that I’ve DR… Is such measurement common for the ladies who seek treatment at Orchard Clinic?

Cheryl: For Cindy, it’s more mid to severe Diastasis Recti condition; we have clients with a 15cm gap. We’ve seen cases where it’s too late to treat because the connective tissues, skin and collagen network are poor after leaving it for too long.

ways to fix diastasis recti in Singapore
Mummies, we are not alone on this post-pregnancy body recovery journey. That mum tum can be fixed without surgery, and so can other issues like incontinence, stretch marks and loose skin.

Did you only discover you have DR after you went to Orchard Clinic? – mum of 3

Cindy: I’ve shared about how I accidentally discovered that I’ve Diastasis Recti here! :)

I think I’m type 5 too… Used to be 3 -finger gap, it’s now 1.5-2cm after doing deep core exercises like those 100 reps ab work exercises. But I think I’ve reversed my deep core muscles? Can’t hold pee as well as before – I had to stop and go back to focus on deep core deep breathing. I still look pregnant. Post-delivery, I didn’t know I couldn’t do plank and crunches. I thought Malay lady massages and wrapping will help shrink my tummy. No one told me about DR at all. – mum of 2

Cheryl: Kudos to this mummy for being consistent with exercise, and it’s not easy! Exercise can help to close it to a certain point, but it really depends on her condition as there are connective tissues, skin quality and the linea alba that need more intensive treatments to strengthen. If she’s a Type 5, exercise may improve her ab muscles but it’s not really possible to strengthen those tissues and close up the gap. A common behaviour we see – doing core exercises when the mum tum is in the way. First of all, do take it easy when exercising with Diastasis Recti. Our tissues are like a rubber band that are stretched out, and doing the wrong exercises can worsen the condition, along with age. The best way to find out what to do or what not to do next, would be to come for an assessment to understand your Diastasis Recti condition.

I have Diastasis Recti and lower backaches when I lie on my back to sleep. Could it be the cause? – mum of 3

Cheryl: Backaches can result from many things like poor posture, carrying your baby etc. But DR does cause backaches. If the core is weak and your body is unable to support the back, the back will start aching. This can all be aggravated too.

Cindy: For me, my lower back aches have gotten worse over the last 2 years. Besides baby wearing my kids and breastfeeding on the go in a baby carrier, I think my Diastasis Recti contributes to the back pains too. My core muscles are weak and my body needs to compensate for the lack of strength, and that aggravates my back. I used to be able to walk all day before, but now, my back starts to hurt after walking for just a couple of hours.

orchard clinic treatment reviews
My experience with Cheryl and her team at Orchard Clinic has been positive since my first treatment in Jan 2022. It’s an all-ladies team at all their centres, and I feel comfortable chatting with them during the treatments, or preferring to “stone”/check emails/reply messages when I’m alone with the Embody machine.

Is it too late to fix Diastasis Recti after 2 years of giving birth?

Cheryl: It’s better late than never; the earlier the better actually. But we understand mummies often have many things to attend to after having a baby. Most mummies come in about 1 year after birth and they still get good results. We have mums who come in 10 to 12 years after their last childbirth. It may take longer if the situation has been on-hold for much longer, so more time and sessions might be needed compared to mums who come in earlier.

Are the Diastasis Recti treatments at Orchard Clinic guaranteed to see results? It’s quite costly… – mum of 3

Cheryl: We would love to guarantee results, but with matters relating to health and our human body, every condition is different. That said, we’ve gotten good results at 100% improvement in the Diastasis Recti symptoms, and a 98% success rate for closing up the Diastasis Recti gap. Thus, we’re confident in how we can help more mummies. In the event that we’re not confident to treat a certain patient’s condition; because she probably needs surgery or maybe she has hernia, we won’t take those cases too. That’s also why a body assessment is necessary, to understand your condition and know what type of Diastasis Recti treatment options are available in Singapore. For patients with very mild DR gap like 2-finger gap or very shallow, we do tell them that they can be trying out other alternatives. We have to weigh what we want – if you want fast results and make sure that you’re doing it correctly to fix the Diastasis Recti safely – that’s something we can discuss during the assessment too.

Can Diastasis Recti treatments be coupled with exercise concurrently? – Sherry

Cheryl: Yes, we actually encourage exercising even if you’ve Diastasis Recti. Cardio exercises are good to continue, but do skip sit-ups, or exercises that works the core muscles. Make sure to avoid certain activities and exercises that may make Diastasis Recti worse.

fixing diastasis recti symptoms in Singapore
There will be 4 Orchard Clinic outlets by the end of 2022. Visit the clinic nearest to you for an assessment of your postpartum conditions :) This photo was taken at their new outlet in Bukit Timah.

I had DR after no.2 and I feel the gap worsen badly after no.3. Will there be danger if I go for no.4? – mum of 3

Cheryl: This would mean that the pregnancy starts at the existing gap e.g. 4cm, if that’s her measurements. If she does get pregnant, her body will expand, along with her muscles and connective tissues. That means her DR gap would definitely worsen too. This is a common question we get – whether to be done having kids then treat everything? Or, treat the postpartum issues then go on to get pregnant? We always recommend to fix Diastasis Recti first, before carrying another baby with your tummy stretched out. With a bigger separation after the next pregnancy, along with age and the severity of the condition, it may take longer to for the DR to heal.

I’ve umbilical hernia and Diastasis Recti, never got to fixing it because it’s not covered by insurance. No matter how much I exercise, the pouch will still be there. I went to a doc a couple of years ago and he confirmed my umbilical hernia and suggested surgery if I don’t want kids anymore. – mum of 2 boys.

Cheryl: Umbilical hernia surgery involves stitching of the muscle layers. The core issue, is the core muscles, but they are not strengthened. Some mums come to us after the umbilical hernia surgery to strengthen their core muscles. Some of their connective tissues are also cut. If possible, keep the risk low and try out non-surgical methods first.

I am interested to know if the Diastasis Recti treatments are expensive. Been wanting to do something about mine, but can’t convince myself if I need it… – mum of 3

Cheryl: The value of the cost can be subjective. If the condition requires surgery and then coming back to machine-related maintenance, there will be costs for both surgical and non-surgical methods, and that would be more expensive. When thinking about the costs, we should also think about the time needed (or wasted?) to improve the condition. Perhaps do weigh what you want? Are you okay to live with it and go for surgery if it worsens to that point? Some mummies share stories with us that their tummies are saggy and they don’t want to show to their hubbies. They’re not body confident, feel upset and it’s affecting them and everything else they do. Are these the same for you? When you look at the results and how fast that can be achieved, that’s a consideration besides the actual monetary costs.

Catch our IG Live as we discussed Mom Body concerns like Diastasis Recti and other postpartum health issues!

Complimentary gift for my friends and readers!

Receive a medical-grade postpartum girdle (worth $300) when you start a treatment plan with Orchard Clinic (Kembangan)! Schedule an appointment for a postpartum assessment at Orchard Clinic. The comprehensive 3-point assessment includes checking for common postpartum body conditions: Diastasis Recti (abdominal separation or ‘Mummy Tummy’), Pelvic Floor conditions (e.g. incontinence) and Vulva/Vaginal Laxity.

Read other expert advice topics on The Hooting Post!

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