October 15, 2009

Treatments for Hernia During Pregnancy

Posted in Category : Women's Health

A hernia is formed when a part of an organ or a tissue protrudes through a containing muscle or tissue. They most often develop in the abdominal region, usually in places where the abdominal wall muscles have weakened. The usual symptoms of a hernia are pain in the affected region along with a protruding lump. The lump is caused initially by fatty tissue pushing through the containing tissue followed by a part of the organ tissue itself.

There are several causes of hernias with pregnancy being one of the more common ones. Several changes take place in a woman’s abdominal region during pregnancy. The growing uterus applies pressure to the abdominal walls causing muscles to stretch and in some cases, even tear. This can result in a portion of the intestines protruding through the tear, resulting in a hernia.

The different types of hernias that may occur in pregnant women include femoral hernias, umbilical hernias and ventral hernias.

Femoral hernias form in the groin area and appear as a bulge in the upper thigh or the labia, the folds of skin surrounding the vagina. This type of hernia can cause a lot of problems for pregnant women and can curtail movement to a great extent.

An umbilical hernia is by far the most common type to affect pregnant women. It is caused by the pressure from the fetus on the abdominal walls and is characterized by the outward bulging of the abdominal lining or abdominal organ through the region of the belly button. These hernias may also affect the developing fetus and are often associated with rare disorders such as mucopolysaccharide storage diseases, Down syndrome and Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome.

Ventral hernias are caused by the protrusion through an old injury or incision that has subsequently healed. This is usually caused because the expansion of the abdomen that takes place during pregnancy may cause a stretching and tearing of the scar tissue that has formed over the site of the old injury.

Hernia symptoms during pregnancy will vary on a case by case basis. Common symptoms include a pain in the affected region and a bulge that appears. The bulge may grow in size or may disappear after a while. A bulge that doesn’t flatten on lying down could indicate an incarcerated or a strangulated hernia which will be accompanied by symptoms of abdominal distention, nausea, and vomiting. These types of hernias require immediate medical attention.

The treatment for hernia during pregnancy will focus on keeping it from worsening or getting bigger. Strenuous activity needs to be completely avoided and complete bed rest may be advised. Dietary changes may also be suggested, incorporating high fiber foods that will help to prevent constipation. You may be asked to wear a binder to support the abdominal muscles and the hernia and prevent it from getting pushed out further.

However, a hernia will not just go away and ultimately surgery to repair the tear in the muscle will be required. Nowadays, surgery to repair hernias is a routine process although it does have its share of risks. The type of surgery required will depend on the type of hernia. Most surgeries involve the use of special meshes made from thin, strong plastic material. These meshes will be surgically implanted and will help to seal the breach in the tissue and contain the organs within.

You should discuss all the aspects of surgery with your doctor including the risks involved, bearing in mind your condition and the risks the surgery may place on your pregnancy and the life of your unborn child.


  1. http://www.cedars-sinai.edu/Patients/Health-Conditions/Hernia.aspx
  2. http://www.umm.edu/ency/article/002935.htm