Courtesy of Yasmine Singh

I Thought I Couldn't Lose The Baby Weight, But I Actually Had An Umbilical Hernia

Ad failed to load

During my pregnancy, I was what people called "all belly." Although I had a slew of issues during my pregnancy, such as gestational diabetes and a breeched baby, I actually gained very little weight except in my stomach. So even though I had a c-section, I expected my journey back to my pre-baby body to be a smooth one. But of course, that wasn't the case: after I gave birth, I thought I was just having trouble losing the baby weight, but I actually had an umbilical hernia.

In the first few weeks after I gave birth, I lost most of the weight that I'd gained during my pregnancy. It wasn't intentional: I was just stressed out and I kept forgetting to eat. I also was so tired and busy taking care of my daughter that I sometimes forgot to take care of myself. But I was able to fit into most of my old clothing shortly after I gave birth. My stomach still protruded slightly, but I didn’t think much of it.

After a few months, however, I began to notice that my small post-pregnancy "pouch" kept getting bigger. My belly button was also protruding, and you could see it through my clothes. I wasn't able to wear most of my jeans, so I wore leggings and loose fitting clothing. I started doing crunches and ab exercises and tried to eat healthier, but nothing seemed to help. In fact, my belly button seemed to stick out more and my stomach actually got bigger every time I exercised.

Ad failed to load

I posted on Facebook about my struggle, and a few moms commented that I shouldn’t worry about it. They encouraged me to give it some time and stop stressing out, so I took their advice. I thought I was just being impatient with myself, and I had no idea that I had an actual medical issue.

Courtesy of Yasmine Singh

About 10 months postpartum, at a routine physical, my doctor took one look at my stomach and told me I had an umbilical hernia. The condition is caused by part of the intestine protruding through the umbilical opening in the abdominal muscles, which causes a person's belly button to stick out and their stomach to look larger.

Ad failed to load

I couldn't help but laugh, because my daughter also had an umbilical hernia when she was 2 months old. In fact, the condition is quite common in newborns, because the umbilical cord passes through a small opening in the baby's abdominal muscles during pregnancy. Usually, it closes just after birth, when abdominal muscles develop and strengthen, but this wasn't the case for my baby. At the time, our pediatrician assured us that eventually, our daughter's abdominal muscles would strengthen when she starting sitting up, and she would no longer have an umbilical hernia. Sure enough, it went away when she was about 4 months old.

After I received the diagnosis, I was relieved.

I had no idea that adults could get umbilical hernias, too — but apparently, they can. As my doctor explained to me, during pregnancy, a woman's abdominal muscles separate to make accommodations for a growing fetus. Sometimes this results in diastasis, or the weakening of abdominal tissue — and that can lead to a hernia. In my case, my muscles never fully aligned in their rightful place, and therefore my intestine (or part of it, at least) is now poking through an opening right into my belly button.

Ad failed to load

Usually, umbilical hernias are not dangerous, and they only cause mild discomfort and constipation. In some rare cases, a hernia can restrict blood flow, in which case immediate medical attention is required, but I pretty much felt fine.

Yasmine Singh

After I received the diagnosis, I was relieved. Now I knew why my stomach wasn't getting flatter, and why my belly button looked so strange. I told my doctor that I had focused on ab exercises, and he immediately told me I was making my condition worse. The only way to treat an umbilical hernia, he said, was by having surgery. For babies, the condition can mostly heal itself because their muscles are still developing, but for adults, it's usually permanent.

Ad failed to load
Honestly, I was so angry. I had no idea what an umbilical hernia was, let alone that I was at risk for having one.

I have no way of knowing for sure what caused my hernia. It could have been trauma from my c-section, as about 2 in 1,000 women require surgery for a hernia after a c-section, or it could've been a result of heavy lifting, although I had gotten the all-clear to lift heavy items after my post-delivery 6-week checkup. Either way, having surgery was my only option if I wanted to take care of it.

My doctor told me I didn't need to get surgery if I wasn't in any sort of pain, and that I could leave it alone for the time being. But when I went to my OB/GYN for a second opinion, he explained that I should delay surgery only if I planned on having another baby within a year or so. He also mentioned that if I left it alone, the hernia would likely get bigger.

Ad failed to load
Courtesy of Yasmine Singh

Honestly, I was so angry. I had no idea what an umbilical hernia was before my daughter had one, let alone that I was at risk. None of the pamphlets I was given included any information on postpartum hernias. Had I known, I would have rested more, or I would have been able to spot the signs earlier and refrained from exacerbating the situation. I drove myself crazy for months doing thousands of crunches and dieting, only to find out I was actually making my situation worse.

At first, I was really embarrassed about the way my stomach looked, but knowing that my body has gone through a lot to have a healthy baby has made me more comfortable with it.
Ad failed to load

Now, I'm faced with the decision of whether I should have surgery. As of right now, I don't have any pain — only mild discomfort if I wear tight pants. Since I stopped doing crunches, my hernia hasn't gotten any bigger; in fact it has gotten a bit smaller. But I'm not sure I want to go through another surgical procedure, if it's not completely necessary.

As of right now, I've adjusted to my new stomach and belly button. I wear looser clothing and try not to lift anything too heavy, which could make it worse. It will never go away on its own, but for now I'm just living with it. At first I was really embarrassed about the way my stomach looked, but knowing that my body has gone through a lot to have a healthy baby has made me more comfortable with it. I just wish I had known about umbilical hernias sooner, because it would have saved me a lot of stress.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

5 Parenting Habits That Increase Your Chances Of Successfully Potty-Training Your Child

From starting solids to learning to walk, every childhood milestone presents its own unique set of challenges — but this is especially true of potty training. Indeed, the very thought strikes fear into the heart of many a toddler parent, particularly…
By Jacqueline Burt Cote

Getting Pregnant Might Mean Losing The Plus-Size Body I Love

For the last two years, I haven’t been my body’s biggest champion. I’ve gained 50 pounds. The stress of helping a parent get sober, a house purchase, and a new job got the best of me. But now, at 36, with talks between my husband and I about having a…
By Loren Kleinman

7 Hilarious Differences Between Having A Baby In Your 20s Vs Your 30s

I was 24 when I had my daughter. And even though that pregnancy was neither expected nor pleasant, I was optimistic. Sure, I guess your 20s are "supposed" to be about finding yourself, finishing college, starting your career, and navigating less-than…
By Candace Ganger

Babies "R" Us Was The First Place I Went When I Found Out I Would Be A Mom

For years I struggled to have a baby, and the sight of toys and layettes made my heart hurt. For me, Toys "R" Us and Babies "R" Us were a complete no-go zone, a reminder of everything I was missing out on. My mom would walk the long way around Target…
By Becky Bracken

New Moms Have Two Options: Be "Sad & Fat" Or "Desperate & Thin"

As the line goes, the worst thing you could say about me, I've already thought about myself. In the early postpartum period with my son, it was: "I am overweight, lonely, and heartbroken." It was four days after I brought my son into the world, and I…
By Danielle Campoamor

6 Fascinating Facts About Spring Babies: You Could Have A Leader On Your Hands

Does the season in which you are born affect you or are all seasons pretty equal? It turns out that there are many ways in which the your child's birth season could give you an insight into things to come. Whether you are expecting a baby in the next…
By Shari Maurer

Kids Will Love These TV Shows & Movies Coming To Netflix In April

It's that time of the month again: as March draws to a close, Netflix gets ready for a little bit of spring cleaning. Though some TV shows and movies will have to find homes elsewhere, their departure makes room for all kinds of exciting new media. A…
By Megan Walsh

I'm A Stay-At-Home Mom &, Face It, These 11 Stereotypes Are Totally True

Hello, friends! It's me, your resident stay-at-home mom. You know, there's a lot that's said about me and my kind, and the vast majority of it is not even remotely true. For example, this whole "we're lazy, vapid, unambitious, anti-feminist, backstab…
By Jamie Kenney

The Pressure To Worry About The Gap Between Kids Is So Bad For Moms

"Two under two is absolutely crazy," a friend recently told me upon hearing the news that I was expecting a second child. "Why would you do this to yourself? Seriously, why?" However harsh her words, she was only echoing the same feelings I'd been ba…
By Marie Southard Ospina

To Be Honest, I Couldn't Survive Motherhood Without My Job

The decision to work outside the home once you've become a parent can be a complicated one. Some people don't really have a choice, and go back to work because they're either a single parent or can't sustain their family on one income. Some choose to…
By Priscilla Blossom

I Feel Guilty That My Kid’s Dad Is A Better Parent Than Me, & That’s BS

I was scared, and he was sure. I was clueless, and he was well-researched. I was making mistakes, and he was picking up the pieces. From the moment I found out I was pregnant until just last night, when I threw my hands up in the air and left the alw…
By Danielle Campoamor

These Millennial Parents Are Taking Gender-Neutral Parenting To An Entirely New Level

A woman on the subway looks at my bulbous shape and asks, “What are you having?” I take a deep breath and throw a glance to my 5-year-old. “I’m having a baby,” I say to the woman. “No, no” the woman says laughing as she pushes further. “Are you havin…
By Madison Young

My Daughter Is Obsessed With Being "Pretty" & I'm Way Past Terrified

Last week, when I picked up my daughter after school, she immediately wanted to know if I liked her hair. "Is it pretty?" she asked. Her hair was pulled up into two ponytails that were intertwined into thick, long braids. A shimmering pink and purple…
By Dina Leygerman

7 Things No One Tells You About Having A Baby In Your 20s, But I Will

I was 24 when I found out I was pregnant with my daughter. The pregnancy was a surprise, since I was on birth control (side note: antibiotics and birth control don't mix), but my partner and I decided to continue with the pregnancy and committed to m…
By Candace Ganger

7 Things I Wish My Partner Had Said To Me In The First Hour After Giving Birth

I don't know if it was the buzz of the surrounding machines, the non-existent cry of our son as the doctors tried to resuscitate him, or the fact that I'd already been through labor and delivery once before, but I knew something was missing after I h…
By Candace Ganger

Moms’ Groups Weren’t For Me, Sorry

I go to my moms’ club everyday of the week, but not usually on weekends. My moms' group is a place I can always count on finding fellow mothers who understand the daily struggles and triumphs of parenthood and of juggling life’s responsibilities. Dep…
By Samantha Taylor

I've Had 3 Miscarriages But *Please* Keep Telling Me About Your Pregnancy

I can feel the tension the moment my friend announces her pregnancy. I can hear the forced nonchalant attitude she's willing herself to exude as she fishes for the ultrasound. I know why I was the last to learn that she was expecting; why she keeps l…
By Danielle Campoamor

7 Early Signs You're Going To Need An Epidural, According To Experts

Even if you've constructed an elaborate birth plan, it's impossible to control every aspect of labor and delivery. Complications can occur, proactive measures might be necessary, and your mind is subject to change when those damn contractions really …
By Candace Ganger

11 Essential Products To Pack In Your Hospital Bag, According To OB-GYNs

The minute you go into labor (or think you're going into labor), chaos ensues. You and your partner are likely to get a little frantic, just like in the movies, so you most definitely want to have a hospital bag packed before the day comes. This prec…
By Abi Berwager Schreier

7 Photos You *Must* Take In The First 6 Months Of Motherhood

In my experience, becoming a mom is like becoming an amateur photographer. There's just something about the need to capture every single coo and sorta-smile that leaves you obsessed with all things photography. I know I couldn't stop taking selfies w…
By Candace Ganger