Did you know that only around 0.08% of women develop umbilical hernia after pregnancy?
It may not seem like a high percentage, but it is always useful to learn more about postpartum umbilical hernia so that you can act quickly should it ever occur to you.
This article will help you understand the signs and symptoms of umbilical hernia after pregnancy, as well as show you what treatments are available.
What is a Postpartum Umbilical Hernia?
A postpartum umbilical hernia is a condition that occurs when part of the intestine protrudes through a small tear formed in the weakened abdominal muscle wall. It happens in about 1 in every 100 births, but can easily be treated in most cases.
Umbilical hernia after pregnancy is often associated with diastasis recti, which is the separation of the left and right abdominal muscles during pregnancy.
Are Umbilical Hernias Common After Pregnancy?
Umbilical hernias are not a common post-birth complication. In fact, only about 0.08% of women tend to experience umbilical hernia after pregnancy.
That is around 1 in every 100 births.
Postpartum umbilical hernia is more common in women who underwent abdominal surgery or cesarean section in past.
Are Belly Button Hernias Common After C-section?
You are more likely to experience a hernia 3 years after having a C-section, or if you have previously had an abdominal hernia.
If you have had abdominal hernias in the past, you may be likely to develop a hernia after having a C-section, due to prior weakness in the abdominal wall.
What Causes Umbilical Hernia After Pregnancy?
Common causes of umbilical hernia after pregnancy are:
- Accumulation of fluids in the abdominal organs and cavity
- Tiny hole or gap in abdominal tissue or muscle after detachment of umbilical cord
- Surgery when previously delivered a baby
What Causes an Umbilical Hernia to Flare Up?
Usually, an umbilical hernia will flare up when there is an increase in intestinal activity, such as during childbirth or illness.
Signs and Symptoms of Postpartum Umbilical Hernia
The signs and symptoms of a postpartum umbilical hernia include:
- Swelling in the lower abdomen
- Outward protrusion of the skin around the abdomen
- Problems with bowel movements or urination
- Nausea, vomiting and fever
- Pain and burning sensation in the abdomen
The pain and burning sensation will increase when you are lifting heavy weights, coughing, sneezing or during bowel movements.
If you experience any of these signs or symptoms, make sure you let your doctor know.
Is Having Umbilical Hernia Pain After Pregnancy Normal?
Yes, postpartum belly button hernia can cause pain and discomfort, among several other symptoms.
If you are worried about the amount of pain you are experiencing, make sure you immediately call your doctor.
Diagnosis of Postpartum Umbilical Hernia
Umbilical hernia after pregnancy can be diagnosed by physical examination and laboratory analysis of pus or discharge from the hernia sac.
A complete a medical history is also conducted to determine if the umbilical hernia has become trapped within the abdominal opening.
If it is determined that the hernia is incarcerated, then further diagnosis and treatment will be necessary.
Umbilical Hernia After Pregnancy Treatments
There are both surgical and non surgical treatments options for umbilical hernia after pregnancy:
Surgical treatment of a hernia can be effective and minimally invasive, but it is strongly recommended that in cases where hernias are not severe, physical exercises to strengthen the core muscles be performed first.
A surgical repair is usually advised if the hernia is large or incarerated.
In such case, a small incision is made at the base of the belly button, and if any intestine is present in the hernia, it’s put back into the abdominal cavity.
The opening in muscle is repaired with multiple layers of stitches to prevent another hernia from occurring.
Surgery is not always necessary, and in many cases, the protrusion caused by the hernia will diminish over time through exercises.
Regular exercises will help to strengthen the muscles around the hernia.
Avoid activities that put strain on your stomach muscles, like lifting heavy objects, and instead focus on exercises that strengthen your core muscles.
Maintaining good posture is also important to reduce the chances of developing an umbilical hernia in the future.
Umbilical Hernia After Pregnancy Exercises
There are a few exercises that are usually recommended for people who have a minor umbilical hernia.
These are exercises that can help you improve abdominal muscle tone.
However, it is important to consult with a doctor before starting any exercise routine.
Avoid exercises and aerobics that end up extensively stretching and straining the pelvic floor.
For example, lifting of heaving objects can cause you to strain your abdominal muscles.
Here are a few exercises you can do:
Do this for 10-12 minutes, twice or thrice a week. This will help to improve your blood circulation and strengthen your abdominal muscles.
- Lie down and place one hand on your belly and one on your chest
- Take a deep breath ensuring your abdomen expands as you inhale
- Exhale slowly as your abdomen goes back to its position
The boat pose is a yoga exercise used for core strengthening.
Here is a video that shows how you can do a boat pose to help your umbilical hernia after pregnancy:
What Happens If an Umbilical Hernia Goes Untreated?
If an umbilical hernia goes untreated, it can lead to abdominal pain and less blood supply to the intestines. In some cases, the hernia can become infected and cause abdominal swelling.
Prevention is always better than cure, so you need to consult your doctor before pursuing any kind of treatment or exercise.
Can an Umbilical Hernia Heal Itself After Pregnancy?
Most umbilical hernias heal themselves after pregnancy without any medical intervention. However, you should get it examined by a doctor regardless.
Surgery may be necessary to repair a postpartum hernia if it’s severe or doesn’t heal on its own within 6 weeks.
Will Umbilical Hernia Go Away After Pregnancy?
The answer depends on the severity of your umbilical hernia. Certain hernias will require surgery, but minor hernia can be improved with exercises. However, exercises will only allow a reduction in the protrusion of the belly button.
When Should I Worry About My Umbilical Hernia in Adults?
In general, you should worry about an umbilical hernia in adults if you experience any of the following signs or symptoms: severe pain or discomfort, swelling or bulging near the navel, a feeling of pressure in the abdomen, and difficulty breathing.
If you have any of these symptoms, it is advisable to see a doctor right away.
Your doctor will be able to determine if you have a reducible umbilical hernia and whether treatment is necessary.
Treatment may involve regular exercise or surgery depending on the severity of your postpartum umbilical hernia, and whether there are signs of infection or strangulation of intestine.
When Should You Go to The ER For an Umbilical Hernia?
You should go to ER for an umbilical hernia if you have severe abdominal pain or swelling, fever, nausea, and chills.
Pregnancy After Umbilical Hernia Surgery and Repair
Pregnancy after umbilical hernia surgery and repair can lead to ventral hernia recurrence.
According to studies, the use of mesh during umbilical hernia repair does not lower the risk of hernia happening again.
The best advice for a woman who has had an umbilical hernia repaired is to wait at least 6-months after the repair to get pregnant.
Make sure you speak to your doctor to get advice tailored to your specific situation.
Umbilical hernia after pregnancy is a condition that occurs to mothers when their intestines protrude through the umbilicus postpartum.
Although it only happens in 1 in 100 births, knowing about causes, symptoms, and treatments can help you tackle the condition should it ever occur to you.
Your doctor will advise what the best cause of action is and if surgery needs to be performed to repair the hernia.
For this reason, always consult your doctor if you suspect to have a postpartum umbilical hernia.