Umbilical hernia is a common phenomenon during pregnancy, with many women experiencing it. Know more on this condition, in this article.
In human abdomen, every organ is tucked safely in its own cavity. Hernia is a condition in which a weak abdominal wall causes other organs to project inside it. A hole or defective abdominal wall allows external tissues to enter this space, thereby leading to a protrusion. Umbilical hernia is a type of hernia in which there is defect in abdominal wall near the navel. More often than not, it is present at the birth itself. In small children, the hole seals itself by the time child becomes 2 year old. Adults usually do not show any symptoms of this condition unless this area is stressed. A condition such as pregnancy or chronic cough may make umbilical hernia more evident.
Umbilical Hernia During Pregnancy
Signs of Umbilical Hernia
As mentioned above, umbilical hernia in adults is congenital. It is present in people in whom the hole in abdominal wall did not close itself. Oftentimes, the hole may be very small, so that no tissue can pass through it. However, when you are pregnant, you gain weight and the size of your abdomen also increases. This causes the hole to enlarge as well. This is when you may actually become aware of its presence. If the hole is still small, you may not notice it from outside as it does not let tissues in. However, in some cases the hole may be large enough to allow tissues and other organs in. During such times, you may be able to see small protrusion around navel area. Often, it looks like an inverted belly button. Sometimes, you may be able to flatten the protrusion by pressing it with fingers.
Umbilical hernia may not be painful in most cases. It does not interfere with your baby’s development whatsoever. However, in rare cases a condition named incarceration may occur. In this condition a part of bowel slides in the hole and gets trapped. This cuts its blood supply and may cause it to become strangulated. This can be a dangerous condition that needs immediate medical intervention. Besides, it is also very painful for the concerned woman.
Painful umbilical hernia during pregnancy can be treated only with a surgery. However, your doctor may not advise you to go for surgery right away. More often than not, the condition will resolve itself once you deliver your baby and your abdomen comes back to its pre-pregnancy size. However, if you experience too much of pain such that it starts interfering with your day-to-day activities, then your doctor may consider operating you for hernia. Incarceration or strangulation of bowel needs to be addressed immediately. This is a simple surgical procedure in which the protruded organ is pushed back in its own cavity and the abdominal hole is sealed. The surgery is a low risk one and operated on an out patient basis. If a surgery becomes inevitable in your case, and you are required to go for a C-section, then you can get this surgery done then itself.
Surgery during pregnancy may not be a good idea as it increases your chances of going into a preterm labor. If you are not well into your final trimester, then a preterm labor may cause developmental issues for your baby. Hence, doctors often ask women to wait until after their delivery to get their hernia problem fixed.
Thus, a hernia during pregnancy need not always warrant an emergency. You may try massaging the area for quick relief. However, if you suffer from unbearable pain, seek medical help immediately.