Some babies and infants develop umbilical hernia after healing of the umbilical cord. The consequences of having a hernia is often not serious except in cases where the intestines becomes obstructed. Despite the minimal effects hernias have, most parents are apprehensive. I guess I’m no different.
I’m writing this post to share my first hand experience with umbilical hernia.
After my daughter’s umbilical cord had healed without any infection whatsoever, I noticed her naval was beginning to bulge out whenever she cried or strained. This was when she was three weeks old.
I yelled anxiously to my husband the first time I saw the bulge. He examined the bulge and assured me that it would reduce in size as our daughter grew.
However, the worst case would be a surgery. But it was very unlikely in her case. He is a medical doctor and a good one so I believed him. But, I was still anxious. Questions bugged my mind. Was my little cutie going to grow with her innie as an outie? How soon could we have the surgery if the bulge didn’t reduce? What if something went wrong with the surgery?
I’m sure you understand me. Mommies and parents can worry about nothing and everything!
What is umbilical hernia?
Simply put, it’s the bulging out of abdominal contents like the intestines through the belly button or navel. Umbilical hernia occurs in one out of five newborns. But the good news is, nine out of ten of them will close on their own. Source.
The umbilical cord is an important structure that connects and allows transfer of blood and nutrients from a mother to a developing baby through the placenta.
When the umbilical cord is cut after delivery, it takes about three to seven days to fall off completely. After falling off of the cord and healing, if the hole in cord doesn’t close “right” or completely, it leads to umbilical hernia.
Risk factors for umbilical hernia
Premature babies or low birth weight
Babies with low birth weight particularly premature babies have an increased risk of developing umbilical hernia. Babies born before 37 weeks are termed premature or preemies. Their birth weight is usually less than 5.8 pounds or 2.5kg.
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It’s when a perfectly healthy baby cries uncontrollably and persistently for no apparent reason. The cries can be intense, high and so distressing.
Colics may be caused by gassiness, acid reflux, food allergies (in mom’s diet) or to infant formula and over stimulation. Source.
Some ways to soothe a colicky baby are to respond to their cries by soothing them; rocking them, burping more often, baby wearing by using for instance this wrap. Although breastfeeding is beneficial, the diet of a breastfeeding mom may cause colics.
Colics predisposes babies to umbilical hernia. This is because, too much crying increases abdominal pressure, which may lead to umbilical hernia.
Symptoms of umbilical hernia:
The typical symptom of umbilical hernia is a bulge at the umbilical area or naval. This is more obvious when a baby cries, strains when pooping or laughs. The bulge becomes less prominent when baby is calm.
Most umbilical hernias are painless except when complicated by the intestines getting stuck in a smaller opening.
Myths about umbilical hernia
Some people believe putting a coin in the naval can make the bulge go away. On the contrary, this is not true. The bulge goes away on its own with time.
The hernia does not need to be forcefully pushed in. Source.
When should I worry about my baby’s umbilical hernia?
Should you notice the following in baby, it means the intestine is possibly obstructed, hence, urgent medical attention is required:
-Sudden onset of vomiting
-Baby crying inconsolably
-The bulge gets tender to touch; discolors or swells. Source
After about five months, I begun to notice a gradual decline in the bulge. By ten months, the bulge had completed deflated.
In conclusion, umbilical hernias are harmless. Despite this, any of the above signs needs medical attention. A prompt diagnosis can help prevent complications. If a hernia is not corrected within two to four years, surgery may be required.
Have you ever seen an umbilical hernia in a baby or toddler? Do you also have a first hand experience with it?
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