During pregnancy, you can usually expect your belly button to flatten out and protrude somewhat more than usual. But sometimes this protruding navel is actually an “umbilical hernia,” a condition that is rarely serious and usually resolves on its own after birth.
What Causes an Umbilical Hernia:
Dr. Gerard M. DiLea, obstetrician-gynecologist and author of The Anxious Parents’ Guide to Pregnancy, explains (BabyZone) that to some extent, everyone has an umbilical hernia! As a fetus develops, there’s a hole in the main supporting layer of the abdomen, allowing the blood vessels of the umbilical cord to go in and out. This small opening sometimes remains after birth. For some people the opening can become larger due to increased abdominal pressure (like a chronic cough or, in our case, pregnancy.) Part of the small intestine passes through this hole causing a hernia.
Symptoms of an Umbilical Hernia
Tenderness around your belly button, especially during coughing or after straining (lifting and carrying around your toddler, for example), may indicate that you have an umbilical hernia. Sometimes you can feel or see a protrusion right near the belly button that you can actually push back in.
Will I Need Surgery?
In most cases, an umbilical hernia does not need surgery. But sometimes a complication called incarceration develops, where organ tissues or intestines are trapped, cutting off their blood supply. The hernia will be painful. When this happens, a hernia surgery is required to repair the damage. If you suspect that your hernia is causing strangulation, you should see your doctor immediately, because if not corrected, an incarcerated hernia is very dangerous. Look out for symptoms such as swelling, pain, or discoloration.
The surgery is usually done as an outpatient procedure, under general anesthesia, and is a low-risk operation.
feature photo from health.com