If you notice a swelling or bump (anywhere from grape to grapefruit size) in or around your belly button that is more apparent when you cough or sneeze, associated with pressure and or pain around the bellybutton you may have an umbilical hernia.
The umbilical hernia does not occur frequently in pregnancy numbers reported as low as 0.08%. In fact it is more common in people who aren’t pregnant. However as the pregnancy progresses and the uterus puts more pressure on the expanding abdomen it is common for a belly button to go from being an “innie” to an “outie” however if this is excessive and associated with the above symptoms it could be an umbilical hernia. There are certain risk factors that increase the likelihood of developing one:
- carrying multiples (ie twins/triplets)
- history of having an umbilical hernia
- previous pregnancies (especially if had a longer labour)
- diastasis recti (abdominal 6 pack separation)
- chronic constipation
Generally the treatment approach is to keep an eye on the hernia and make some lifestyle modifications:
- lifting: heavy lifting is not advised with a hernia due to the increase in intra-abdominal pressure
- support: some find wearing a belly band to give support and gentle counter pressure to the hernia gives some relief
- ice: massage with ice around the area has been found by some to give temporary relief to mild discomfort
- weight gain: as obesity is a risk factor, gaining too much weight during pregnancy can increase the symptoms, discuss with your doctor about the weight gain increase range you should be aiming to keep too
- constipation: another risk factor for hernias is chronic constipation; see our post on constipation for management advice to help with this
Surgery is where possible avoided during pregnancy however there are rare occasions – such as a trapped or strangulated hernia. And a repair of the umbilical hernia can be done during a C-section.
If you do have an umbilical hernia many will resolve after the pregnancy but can be helped by ensuring you rehab your pelvic floor and abdomen. Check out our PELVIC CORE & FLOOR program to help you with this after giving birth.