Postpartum Hernia – Hernia Causes, Treatments and Facts
When pregnant, you can be at higher risk of hernia. And today, I want to talk more about a postpartum hernia. If you are experiencing any pain, or have any questions about postpartum hernia, please seek professional medical advice.
Hernias of all types occur when an internal part of the body pushes through an opening in muscle or tissue beneath the skin.
Different Types of Postpartum Hernias
There are different types of hernia. One I discuss in this post is most likely to affect women during or after pregnancy and that is an umbilical hernia.
What Is an Umbilical Hernia?
An umbilical hernia occurs when part of the bowel or fatty tissue pokes through an area near the belly button, pushing through a weak spot in the surrounding abdominal wall. This means a hernia located at or near your belly button (umbilicus).
Umbilical hernias are most common in babies, but they can also occur in adults.
For some women, the spot where their umbilical cord detached at birth never fully heals. As a result, this can leave a tiny hole in the abdominal muscle or tissue behind the navel.
What Is an Incisional Hernia?
Another type of hernia is an incisional hernia which can sometimes occur after surgery of the abdomen (such as c-section).
What Causes Postpartum Hernia?
The physical changes that result from during pregnancy can heighten the likelihood of developing what is known as a postpartum hernia.
Hernia, along with diastasis recti (abdominal separation) are caused by excessive intra-abdominal pressure. This pressure involves there being too much pressure inside your abdomen or pelvis.
Because you already have a natural weakness there, that expansion in your belly can be the tipping point.
An umbilical hernia in adults usually occurs when too much pressure is put on a weak section of the abdominal muscles.
Potential Causes include:
1. Multiple gestation pregnancies
This includes having twins, triplets, etc.
2. Multiple Pregnancies
Multiple pregnancies is one factor that can make the pressure inside your abdomen high.
3. Being Overweight – Obesity
Yes, obesity can be a contributing factor. This is why it is important to maintain a healthy weight before, during and after pregnancy.
- Excess fluid in the abdominal cavity
- Abdominal surgery
- Having a persistent, heavy cough
4. Pressure Build Up
What happens is that this pressure builds up inside your body and has nowhere to go but outwards and downwards. Because of this increased pressure, something has to give.
How Do I Know if I have a Postpartum Hernia?
You may have a postpartum hernia that starts with the onset of unfamiliar discomfort. Visual clues such as a protruding belly button can be a sign.
An umbilical hernia will look and feel like an ‘outie belly button’ or protrusion, a soft bulge or a swelling. There may be a dark tint to the skin in the area.
It may feel tender to touch. You may be able to gently push it back in sometimes and you will be more aware of it when you strain such as lifting something heavy, or coughing or sneezing.
Postpartum Hernia Repair – How do you fix a hernia?
Most postpartum hernias are repaired laparoscopically using surgical mesh. This mesh provides an added layer of strength atop weak tissue.
Your personal situation will be different to other women which is why you require a detailed conversation between you and your doctor.
Doctors won’t always advise surgery to fix a hernia. Sometimes they may suggest you leave it alone. Surgery is likely to be recommended if the hernia is causing pain or distress or is getting bigger.
How Serious Is Your Risk?
Not all hernias require surgery. A minor hernia that doesn’t inhibit you from your normal routine might not warrant immediate surgery. It’s important, though, for you to keep pay attention to any signs and be aware of changes in your body and report any noticeable changes immediately to your doctor.
Are You in Pain?
If you are experiencing extreme discomfort or the sudden onset of pain, then you must not ignore these signs and you should take immediate action.
These symptoms may include nausea and vomiting. A noticeable protruding bulge that will not go back in or has associated skin changes needs to be addressed urgently.
Visit a physician in the following cases:
1. The bulge swells up more or becomes discoloured.
2. The bulge becomes painful.
3. Vomiting occurs, accompanied by a bulge.
4. You used to be able to push the bulge flat against the abdomen but now it cannot be reduced without significant pain or tenderness.
How Large Is the Hernia?
Often, the size of the hernia will usually dictate the method of repair. This could range from a simple cut with a stitch to needing a laparoscopic approach with or without mesh. It’s a very large hernia, then your doctor will advise of other options which could include abdominal wall reconstruction.
What If I Get Pregnant Again?
If you become pregnant again you may be at a higher risk of recurrence. A significant expansion of your stomach is likely to cause the hernia to occur again.
What Does Recovery from a Hernia Involve?
Typical hernia surgery will result in you not being able to lift anything heavier than 10 pounds for four to six weeks. This is a time when you will need help from your partner for many daily chores.
Importance of a Strong Core
The way you carry your body throughout your every-day activities is important. Having a strong core is essential because your core supports your entire abdominal and pelvic region.
And here’s the reason my weekly pregnancy workouts have a big focus on strengthening your core – having a strong core can minimise the risk and the effects of hernia.
Your core’s role is to contain the entire abdominal and pelvic cavity as well as to regulate pressure within it, comfortably and without strain.
Your core muscles consist of:
1. Your diaphragm
2. Pelvic floor
3. Transverse Abdominis muscle
4. Multifidus muscles of your spine
Why PregActive for Mamas Works
My postpartum workouts give you non-surgical techniques & exercises to help relieve or prevent some hernias. These workouts do not replace medical advice or recommendations from your doctor. But they do help in strengthening your core and potentially preventing some of the causes for possibly getting a hernia.
I have detailed guidelines on how to lift baby or items from various positions. Whether it is lifting baby, standing doing ironing, putting baby in a car seat to lifting a heavy laundry basket, I’ve got you covered with step-by-step instructions.
Correct alignment – Learn to have correct posture
A primary focus of my workouts is to strengthen your core and ensure you have good posture.
This involves avoiding:
1. Tucking your backside underneath you.
2. Walking in high-heeled shoes all the time (causes hip flexors and knee strain)
3. Specific exercises that strain and exert pressure on your abs and pelvic floor like sit ups or crunches.