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What to Know About Hernias During Pregnancy

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Hernias are very common for men, women and even kids and babies. If you’re expecting a baby, a pregnancy hernia can be a likely, though usually harmless, development.

If you’re experiencing symptoms and believe you have a pregnancy hernia, it’s important to talk to your doctor. They can monitor your hernia and recommend treatment if necessary.

What is a Pregnancy Hernia?

As your pregnancy progresses and your belly begins to grow, developing a hernia is quite common because of the increase in abdominal pressure.

Often, these hernias are no cause for concern, especially if you’re not experiencing symptoms. However, it’s always important to inform your health care practitioner of any changes during your pregnancy—including new bulges or aches in your abdominal area that could be a hernia.

Hernias will not disappear on their own and require repair. Depending on your situation, your doctor may recommend abdominal exercise, surgery or a combination.

Types of Hernias That Can Develop During Pregnancy

Multiple types of hernias can potentially develop during pregnancy. They include:

  • Hiatal hernias can develop in the upper part of the stomach as the growing baby pushes your abdominal organs upwards
  • Inguinal hernias are not very common but may occur during pregnancy due to pressure from your uterus, causing your groin muscle to weaken
  • Umbilical hernias are the most common type of hernias experienced during pregnancy, and they occur directly at your navel. Similarly, paraumbilical hernias can appear near, but not at, the navel

Symptoms of Pregnancy Hernias

Hernia symptoms can vary depending on the type and location, but generally include the following:

  • Cough, heartburn or difficulty swallowing
  • Pressure or discomfort in the area of the hernia
  • Visible bulging or a lump you can feel

Inform your doctor if you have any of these symptoms. If you have a hernia that becomes soft and can’t be pushed back in, or if you have sudden pain, constipation, nausea or vomiting, go to your nearest emergency room. These symptoms could mean you have a strangulated hernia, a life-threatening but treatable condition.

Who is at Risk for Pregnancy Hernias?

Hernias develop as muscles weaken and are common during pregnancy. However, certain factors can make you more prone to experiencing a pregnancy hernia, including:

  • If you’re expecting more than one baby
  • Obesity during pregnancy
  • Previous hernias
  • Prior pregnancies—especially if they resulted in long labors

If you feel you may have developed a hernia during pregnancy, don’t let it be a cause of immediate concern. Connect with your doctor, and they will discuss next best steps with you.

Treating a Pregnancy Hernia

Most hernias due to pregnancy are treatable without surgery. If a hernia is causing discomfort during your pregnancy, you can try massaging it back towards the direction of your stomach. Once your baby is born, your doctor may provide you with exercises to help heal your strained abdominal muscles.

Surgically repairing a hernia while pregnant can be risky, but in most situations, it can usually wait until several months after the baby is born. Waiting to perform a hernia surgery won’t cause any harm to your unborn baby, as it won’t directly affect your womb. However, if soreness and pain from a hernia lead to an inability to eat, it’s important to reach out to your doctor to ensure you’re getting the nutrients required for your baby to grow.

In many cases, any necessary surgery is minimally invasive requiring only three small incisions and a camera to repair the bulge. And while a Caesarean delivery is not typically needed due to a hernia on its own, if you’re undergoing a planned C-section, your doctor might suggest having your hernia repaired during the procedure.

Getting Hernia Care Close to Home

Little can be done to prevent a pregnancy hernia. But the good news is they can be treated. AdventHealth Winter Park has assembled a highly experienced medical team specializing in women’s health care—including caring for pregnancy hernias.

Our network of providers for women delivers comprehensive services and the latest wellness and health advancements. From private labor and delivery rooms to some of the nation’s most sophisticated robotic surgery suites, our dedicated care team will provide you with the care you need close to home.

Request an appointment to discover more about how we can care for you—in body, mind and spirit.

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