I have heard of hernias but not of their names or what types they are so now that I have been diagnosed with two different types of hernias, I decided to dive in deeper in my research about the subject. I was originally diagnosed with Ventral Hernia (I’ll post a link to my other blog). But after going back to a different surgeon for a second opinion, I was diagnosed with an umbilical hernia so here is the information I learned about it.
What is it?
When my doctor first talked to me about an umbilical hernia, I instantly thought of the umbilical cord. Like the one that attached me to my baby during pregnancy? But the cord is out of me so how could it cause a hernia? I’m not a doctor so my mind was racing about the umbilical cord and how it could be the cause of it. But thankfully my doctor said that it is common in most female patients who have had more than one babies and that is just a place in the stomach by or under the belly button that is weak where intestines can push through the fatty tissue. Still doesn’t sound pleasant but at least my crazy uneducated thoughts were put to rest. And I am not afraid to say that my thoughts about the hernia were indeed uneducated because they were since again I am not a doctor nor have I heard about that type of hernia. Or any hernia for that matter. Not until my husband had to deal with his own hernia adventure that hasn’t ended well for him sadly. But that is a story for another hernia blog.
Once I knew the type of hernia I had, I decided to read more about it and it is as my doctor has stated. Near or under the belly button where your insides can push outwards. Sounds gross, doesn’t it? But that is what it is even though the description doesn’t paint a pretty picture. Especially when your doctor tells you that during surgery he would go in and push everything back into place. Still isn’t pleasant at all.
Infants Can have this?
I found out that even babies can have this type of hernia and that it is common for them as well. But how can that be? Apparently, it is more common in little ones who are preterm because as they are growing the umbilical cord can push through their abdomen wall which is still weak and still forming. It is unnerving to know that little ones can get hernias as well especially at such a young age. But it is good to know that it can repair itself as they grow, the places where the cord has pushed through, closing on its own, though there are still those cases where they have to undergo surgery. They say around 3 or 4 years old is when they should know if the child will have to have surgery or not since it should initially close as an infant. If by the age of 4 years old there is still weakness or a bulge, then the doctor will most likely recommend surgery in order to fix the problem.
Symptoms to Watch For
Just like the ventral hernia, there are symptoms to watch out for so that you can properly inform your doctor of what is happening. Especially when those symptoms become worse such as vomiting, pain, or the swelling where the hernia is protruding from becomes discolored. That could mean that your intestines are sadly being pinched “to death” and that you need immediate surgery to relieve the pressure on your intestines. Of course, if you notice a bulge or think there may be one, I would definitely let your doctor know right away so that he or she can make the right decisions to get a scan done or if by feel can tell that it is a hernia that needs to be taken care of.
Get the Surgery
No matter what, if you have a hernia, and as scary as it may seem, always get it fixed. It will be better to get it fixed as soon as it is found instead of later when things can get worse. I was very scared of getting surgery but I knew that if I didn’t take care of it now, it could affect my health in the long run and I can’t let that happen since I have two beautiful daughters to raise. So as scary as it was, I told my surgeon that I was ready to do the surgery to fix the issue and he set up the surgery, which I had on July 16, 2019.
There Are Risks
As with anything, there are risks for both having the hernia and for having the surgery to fix the hernia. The risk factors for possibly having an umbilical hernia is as I had said earlier being a baby, a premie where the cord actually pushes through the abdomen wall while the baby is still growing. For adults and even children, being obese can initially be an issue that could create a problem with having an umbilical hernia. And for us women, having multiple pregnancies since our little ones push and prod at our bodies as they are growing, causing the lining to become thin and weak. A strange risk factor that I found very interesting is the fact that if you have a cough, a rough long-lasting cough, that could put you at a higher risk of a hernia. I would have never thought that something as simple as a cough could put you at a higher risk for hernias but it can because of the strain you are initially putting on your abdomen wall. So if you have been dealing with a cough that hasn’t gone away in a while, might want to get checked out to see what is causing the cough and to make sure that your abdomen wall is still strong.
As I have mentioned before, there are always risks to anything you do these days and having surgery has its own risks as well. For an umbilical hernia surgery, those risks are low but there are a few that you need to take into consideration such as being allergic to any medication that you are given before, during, and after surgery. Having a reaction to the anesthesia that they use in order to put you to sleep for surgery. There are some risks of blood clots since you are under for so long, the surgery taking 45 minutes to over an hour in some cases, and risk of having issues with breathing while under anesthesia. And of course there are risks for after surgery, such as infection, bleeding, stitches coming undone. But your doctor will go over all of the risks of surgery and as scary as they may seem, they are definitely minor.
Two Types of Surgery
There are two types of surgery that can be used for repairing your hernia. There is the mesh option where the doctor may place a piece of mesh against the lining of your abdomen to give it more strength and then there is the non-mesh surgery where the doctor just does some cuts here and there and stitches you back up. My husband had the mesh surgery while I have had the non-mesh surgery.
Also for the surgery, there is the open surgery where there is aa cut in the belly made and the doctor fixes the hernia that way. And then there is the laparoscopy hernia repair surgery where there is an incision made in the belly but instead of it being open, the doctor will use a small light to go inside to see where the hernia is and repair that way. So it’s not fully opened like the first surgery I mentioned, but there is still a small opening that the doctor works through. Both are safe.
Everyone’s body is different so that means your healing time may be faster or may be slower, but whatever you do, don’t rush it! Listen to your doctor always when it comes to healing after surgery, whether minor or major. You don’t want to have to go back and explain to him or her that you didn’t listen and that is why you have to be re-seen over your surgery. No lifting heavy objects, rest for 2 weeks, no driving for 7 days and after that only for short period of times, call if there is any bleeding or visible infection, don’t overdo it by walking a lot, and make sure you rest every chance you get. Don’t harm yourself more after the surgery because you don’t know what you will have to undergo after returning to your doctor. So be smart about it.
Get Checked Out
So whether you think you may have a hernia or you could possibly be at high risk for a hernia, rule of thumb is to always get checked out and to talk to your doctor more in-depth about hernias and the causes. In this day and age, you can never be too careful with your health and it is always better to be safe than sorry as the saying goes. I hope you learned a little bit about umbilical hernias like I have. I will also post links to the websites I did my research from so that you can look more into it if you’d like. Also linked is my blog about Ventral Hernia’s, the first hernia that I was originally diagnosed with. Keep yourself healthy.