An umbilical hernia happens when there is a small hole or defect in the abdominal wall. This small hole allows tissue to protrude through the umbilical area. Umbilical hernias are common in newborns. The umbilical hernia may look like an “outie” belly button and is usually more noticeable when a baby is crying. Umbilical hernias in children are usually not something to worry about. The defective hole normally closes on its own by the time a child is two years old. However, when an adult has an umbilical hernia, the defect does not just heal on its own and may require surgical repair.
Causes of umbilical hernia during pregnancy
Most umbilical hernias are congenital, meaning you have had the hernia since birth. The hernia may have been small or not caused any noticeable symptoms. Pregnancy or excessive weight gain can put stress on the defective or weak area of the abdominal wall causing the hernia to become more noticeable. Many adults have umbilical hernias that go unnoticed because the defect is so small that tissue can not pass through it. Once the hole gets large enough that tissue can pass through, the hernia can become painful and you may see bulging around the umbilical area.
Treatment of umbilical hernia during pregnancy
In most cases it is best to wait until you are no longer pregnant before attempting to repair an umbilical hernia. However, if an umbilical hernia becomes incarcerated, meaning that tissue remains trapped in the defective area and can’t be pushed back in, it will need to be repaired immediately. When a hernia becomes incarcerated the trapped tissue will not receive blood and will eventually die. An incarcerated hernia is generally painful and requires urgent surgical repair. As long as the umbilical hernia is not incarcerated, it is usually best to wait to have it repaired. If the hernia is bulging and uncomfortable, rest and gently massage the hernia until the bulging goes back in. If the umbilical hernia is painful or cannot be pushed back in seek immediate medical attention.