A hernia is a hole in the abdominal muscle wall that causes either intestinal or fatty tissue to poke through. Hernias are a common occurrence during pregnancy, and are the result of abdominal muscles stretching or tearing due to increased pressure from the baby growing inside the uterus. An umbilical hernia is located in the center of the abdomen near the belly button.
Symptoms of an umbilical hernia during pregnancy usually involve mild pain, and many women experience no symptoms at all despite visible signs of a belly button protrusion. Some women find that pain becomes less noticeable during later stages of pregnancy, according to Dr. Marianne J. Legato, Ladies’ Home Journal medical advisor and founder/director of the Partnership for Gender-Specific Medicine at Columbia University. In an article published on the Ladies Home Journal website, Dr. Legato explains that this decrease in pain is the result of a growing uterus blocking the abdominal muscle wall hole.
Most hernias require no treatment and involve just a bit of maintenance, according to Dr. Legato in the Ladies Home Journal website article. Pregnant women can temporarily rectify an umbilical hernia by lying flat on the back while gently pushing on the bulge to place it back behind the muscle wall. Many women choose to live with umbilical hernias, unsightly bulges and all, even after birth and delivery.
Delivery with a Hernia
Most women can deliver a baby vaginally with an umbilical hernia, according to UK HealthCare. Women should discuss any labor and delivery concerns with their obstetrician or midwife to help minimize the chances of hernia-related complications.
The Case for Surgery
Umbilical hernias never permanently disappear, according to the University of Kentucky HealthCare website. When a woman feels intense pressure and pain, or if a hernia grows in size or changes color, surgery is usually necessary.
Most umbilical hernias are repaired using laparoscopic surgery, a procedure that involves making three small incisions and inserting a miniature camera to assist with repair. Doctors will sew a soft mesh around the hernia to reinforce the defect and prevent it from bulging through again. Because any surgery performed during pregnancy poses risks, most doctors prefer to wait until several months after delivery, according to UK HealthCare. Most doctors perform post-pregnancy hernia surgeries on an outpatient basis, and women can expect a recovery time of approximately two weeks.