Pregnancy comes with a lot of beautiful changes to our bodies. It is truly amazing what a woman’s body goes through during pregnancy and birth. However, we never know what to expect because no two pregnancies are alike. A hernia is fairly uncommon during pregnancy. In fact, it is more common to develop a hernia outside of pregnancy than it is during pregnancy. Fortunately, doctors and gynecologists alike, know how to treat the symptoms associated with hernias. Hernias are relatively harmless and do not harm the baby either. Be sure to talk with your gynecologist if you think you have developed a hernia. This will help prevent your hernia from getting larger and more painful during the later stages of pregnancy.
What is a hernia?
A hernia develops as a result of weakened abdominal muscles during pregnancy. When your belly grows, your abdominal muscles enlarge and become relatively thin. The abdominal wall ensures your tissues, organs, stomach and intestines stay tight in its place. A hernia then develops when a small hole occurs in the abdominal wall due to the thin and fragile tissue.. The most common hernia in pregnancy is the umbilical hernia. This is what is most commonly seen in pregnant women when their innie belly button becomes an outie.
Who is more likely to develop a hernia during pregnancy?
- Being overweight before pregnancy
- Pregnant with multiple children (ie. twins)
- Family history of hernias
- Previous pregnancies
- Fluid in the abdomen
- Previous surgeries such as c-sections or other abdominal surgeries
- A pregnancy that is past the due date
- Chronic sneezing or coughing
- Increased pressure in the abdomen
Signs of Hernia / Symptoms
Most women have no knowledge of having a hernia during pregnancy unless a doctor diagnoses them with having one. It is common to have a hernia and experience little to no symptoms at all. However, in some cases, hernias may cause pain. The pain is usually described as dull pain that can become worse when doing exercises or movement. Also, as pregnancy progresses and tissue stretches, it is not uncommon for pain to become worse.
A hernia can usually be felt or seen when lying down. Sometimes the hernia can be a visible bulge without even touching it. While other times, it can only be felt when pressing down and not visible to the naked eye.
What helps with hernia pain during pregnancy?
- Wearing a belly band
- Avoid lifting weights and heavy objects
- Avoid constipation
- Resting with your feet up
Belly Bands for Umbilical Hernia
Belly bands offer all-day relief during pregnancy. The belly bands work by placing even pressure on your belly while giving you proper support. These support belts help support the belly and reduce pressure on your hips and pelvis. It will also help prevent the hernia from getting larger due to the compression that the wrap provides. If your doctor decides that surgery during pregnancy is necessary to treat your hernia, then belly bands will offer that extra support and compression to help your wound heal and protect your incisions. This will also continue to provide the compression needed to help prevent the recurrence of the hernia. It is always possible for a hernia to come back during pregnancy, so prevention and support are key. It is always advisable to check with your gynecologist before using a belly band after hernia surgery to ensure this is right for you.
When should I worry about hernia pain?
Most women are able to push their hernia back into their body by pressing gently on their belly while lying down. If this is not possible, then it is possible the hernia is incarcerated. This would cause concern as it could prevent the blood flow to the hernia. Symptoms of an incarcerated hernia include:
- Pain that gets worse regardless of rest
- Hernia bulge has a change in color
- Trouble passing gas
Hernia Treatment during pregnancy
Not every hernia is cause for concern and in need of treatment during pregnancy. If your hernia is small and not causing any pain, then your doctor will suggest waiting until after birth to fix your hernia if needed. However, in rare cases, hernias can be a cause for concern and need repair during pregnancy. The doctors most likely will repair a hernia if it is causing you significant discomfort and is relatively large.
Hernia repair during pregnancy
The timing as to when to have a hernia repaired varies from doctor to doctor. Most doctors believe that waiting until the second trimester is the best time to fix a hernia because of the risk during the first trimester. Hernia repair surgery during pregnancy is considered generally safe. There have been no reported cases of pregnancy loss from hernia repair surgery during pregnancy. However, it is important to keep in mind that there is a possibility of recurrence later on in pregnancy depending on the choice of treatment.
Hernia Repair during a c section birth
If you are having a c-section, most doctors recommend waiting until then to do a hernia repair. Hernia repair does tend to make a c-section procedure longer than a regular c-section.
Hernia repair after vaginal delivery or after c section
Sometimes doctors advise not doing hernia repair during a c section for a couple of reasons. If you are planning on having another pregnancy then it is best to have a hernia repaired after birth. Doctors suggest waiting until five to eight weeks post-birth to allow your body to heal from your pregnancy and delivery. It is common to allow 6 weeks for healing from birth. Some people have a desire to not repair their hernias at all. Which can be safe as long as there is no increase in hernia size or pain.
Discovering you have a hernia could make you worried and nervous. However, rest assured that you are not alone. With proper treatment and preventative care, you are still able to have a healthy pregnancy with no harm to you or your baby. It is important to listen to your gynecologist instructions and take rests when needed. Wearing a support belt will greatly improve your symptoms of your hernia during pregnancy. A pregnancy belt will provide proper support and prevent a hernia from becoming larger and therefore needing surgery. Enjoy every moment of your pregnancy because nine months feels like a long time but it goes by faster than you realize. Cherish every moment.