Increased abdominal pressure can cause an umbilical hernia at any point in your life. A bad cough and heavy lifting are both common causes of the condition. Therefore, it’s no wonder pregnancy can also cause a hernia. While the word “umbilical” might make you think the condition is somehow related to your baby, it is actually a condition that occurs at your belly button, the point where your own umbilical cord used to be connected.
There is a very small opening at this point, and it can sometimes become enlarged with increased pressure. If you have an umbilical hernia, the main symptom will be pain and tenderness at the belly button. Usually, the opening will go back to its usual size on its own and the pain will subside. Unfortunately, umbilical hernias tend to last longer in pregnant women because the pressure is constant.
Aside from the pain, umbilical hernias are harmless. However, if the pain is interfering with your lifestyle, your doctor might suggest you get an operation. Since any surgery is more risky during your pregnancy, you might have to make the decision with your doctor to wait until you’ve delivered for the procedure. There is also a serious complication that could occur from an umbilical hernia. When the opening is wider, there is a small chance that your bowel could be forced out. When this happens, your bowel movements will be cut off and the results could be fatal. Luckily, studies show that this is rare during pregnancy.
If you get an umbilical hernia during your pregnancy and you are going to have a cesarean section, the hole can be sutured quickly during that procedure. Unless your bowel protrudes out of your hernia, the condition is totally harmless to you and your baby. However, if you are unable to eat or get any physical exercise because of the pain, you could be putting your baby at risk for certain complications, so it’s important you talk to your doctor about possible solutions and whether or not surgery might be necessary.
For the most part, women who get umbilical hernias during their pregnancy are simply inconvenienced slightly. It is one of the many surprising and uncomfortable possible side effects of pregnancy. Once your bundle of joy arrives and you are officially a mom, you’ll forget all about it and the umbilical hole will shrink back to its normal size.
Source: D Punguyire et al: Full-Term Pregnancy in Umbilical Hernia. Pan African Medical Journal Volume 8 Issue 1 2011