A hernia is a dislocation or protrusion of an organ through the wall of the cavity that contains it normally. The pressure that increases inside the abdomen is what causes hernia during pregnancy and many women develop hernia for the first time when they are expecting a baby.
Hernia during pregnancy – why does it happen?
The pregnancy can put very great pressure on the organs in the abdominal cavity causing the muscles there to tear or stretch or weaken. This weakened muscle is where the organ starts to poke through; and a bulge will become visible usually in areas such as the navel, groin or other parts of the abdomen.
How do I know that I have hernia when pregnant?
Since it is abdominal pressure from the growing baby that places pressure and causes the hernia, the most common symptoms of hernia in pregnancy is a visible or palpable bulge.
There could be pain and some restriction of movement depending upon the location of the hernia as well as how far along a pregnancy is.
Tenderness or sensitivity at the site of the hernia may also be noted.
What kinds of hernias can occur during pregnancy?
The most common type of hernia in pregnancy is umbilical hernia and is most likely to occur in the later stages of pregnancy, when the baby is growing rapidly and putting a lot of pressure on the wall of the abdomen. It may appear as a bulge near the navel.
Incisional or ventral hernias occur at the site of a pervious incision or surgery. Pregnant women who underwent a C section previously or had surgeries such as appendectomy, may have cause to have this kind of hernia through the scars caused by the surgery.
Femoral hernias form near the thigh bone or femur as the term implies. This type of hernia during pregnancy occurs typically when a woman has tried to lift something heavy. This kind of hernia can be troublesome because it can limit movement of a pregnant woman particularly in the later stages of her pregnancy.
It is also potentially dangerous since it can cut off the blood supply to the intestines and the organs situated nearby. In cases this could even be life threatening.
How can hernia in pregnancy be treated?
Sometimes it is possible to treat a hernia by gently pushing the affected organ back into place so that it returns to its place behind the wall of muscle. Generally surgery is the solution for hernia but this is not recommended during pregnancy.
If possible the hernia can be monitored and if it is not too bothersome or painful, the pregnancy may be continued along with the hernia. The hernia can then be treated after the birth of the baby.
However certain kinds of hernia during pregnancy, such as femoral hernia are potentially very dangerous and will require treatment. What is important is that if a woman has a hernia or develops one in pregnancy this should be closely monitored by the doctor for treatment options if and when required or to prevent worsening of the situation.