What is the relationship between hernia and pregnancy?

A hernia is a bulge in the stomach, groin, or upper thigh caused by intestines pushing through weakened muscle. The relationship between a hernia and a pregnancy is twofold. For those with a congenital hernia, pregnancy can make the hernia visible. Stretching and tearing of the abdominal muscles during pregnancy can also cause a hernia to develop. Although it can be uncomfortable, treatment can usually wait until after the pregnancy.

A hernia and pregnancy often go hand in hand. A congenital hernia, which is present from birth, can often go unnoticed until pregnancy. The pressure of a growing baby and the weight gain associated with pregnancy can cause an undetectable hernia to develop. In these cases, the hernia rarely requires treatment and will most likely become invisible once the baby is born.

Pregnancy can also cause a hernia to develop, even if a woman has not had one before. The abdominal muscles can, in some cases, weaken and tear as the baby grows. The pressure that the developing baby puts on the intestines can cause it to poke through the weakened spot. When pregnancy causes the hernia, rather than the hernia being a congenital problem, it often appears directly in the center of the abdomen; this usually causes a protruding navel. This occurs because the center of the abdomen is typically where the most pressure is exerted, causing most of the stress to be placed on these muscles.

Regardless of whether a hernia is caused by or due to pregnancy, a hernia and a pregnancy can cause some health problems. In most cases, the patient or a doctor can gently push a hernia inward. It may be painful or need to be pushed regularly, but most likely won't cause any problems. However, in some cases, if the hernia continues to grow, changes color, or becomes unbearable for the mother, it may require surgical treatment. If it is present in the upper thigh, it may require surgery as well; a hernia in the upper thigh is more likely to become entangled, thus cutting off blood flow to the intestine and damaging it. This connection between a hernia and pregnancy is often the most concerning.

Hernia surgery and pregnancy are rarely a good combination. During the first trimester, surgery can increase the chances of miscarriage. During the last trimester, it can increase the risk of preterm labor. If possible, most doctors will wait until after the baby is born before treating the hernia.

If surgery is needed right away, it is best done sometime during the second trimester. At this point, the baby is developed enough to withstand any disturbance, but small enough not to interfere. If it is believed that the mother may require a C-section to deliver the baby, the surgery is best done during pregnancy; Although treatment for a hernia is a relatively simple procedure, it can increase the risks associated with a C-section.

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