Is your baby born with an unusual bulge on its umbilicus or over its belly button? Your baby probably has an umbilical hernia! An umbilical hernia is common in children but may also happen to adults.
We discussed the symptoms, causes, and treatment for umbilical hernia in a baby in this article. Does your baby’s umbilical hernia need treatment? How to treat umbilical hernia in babies?
What are the symptoms of an umbilical hernia in a baby?
An umbilical hernia is a condition where there is an opening in the abdominal wall of the baby when they are born. It appears like an unusual bulge in the belly button but it is actually a sac formed by some part of the intestine, fat, and fluid. Symptoms of umbilical hernia in babies usually do not cause any pain and heal on their own as they age.
You may see the sac-like bulge in your baby’s belly button all the time. But for some children, it only occurs when they cry, cough, or strain while having a bowel movement. Or in other words, whenever they strain the muscles around the bulge.
What causes an umbilical hernia in a baby?
An umbilical hernia happens during the development of the baby inside the womb. As most of us know, the umbilical cord is connected to the abdominal muscles of the baby through a small hole.
An umbilical hernia occurs when the small hole in the abdominal muscles does not close completely around the organs when the baby is born. When the intestine push through the opening in the abdominal wall, a sac-like bulge will be formed.
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According to the Cleveland Clinic, umbilical hernia is more common in premature babies. It can affect both male and female children. In addition, a Mayo Clinic article about umbilical hernia stated that this condition is also common in babies with low birth weights.
On the other hand, being overweight or having multiple pregnancies are risk factors for umbilical hernia in adults. Aside from that, too much pressure in the abdomen may also cause an umbilical hernia to occur in adulthood.
Too much pressure in the abdomen is usually caused by: obesity, previous abdominal surgery, dialysis treatment for kidney problems, multiple pregnancies, and fluid in the abdominal cavity.
Treatment for umbilical hernia in baby
How to treat umbilical hernia in a baby?
Usually, an umbilical hernia in a baby goes away on its own after a few years. However, there are cases where its complications occur when the abdominal tissue becomes trapped or incarcerated.
If this happens, the tissues can no longer be pushed back into the abdominal cavity reducing the blood supply to the trapped intestine.
Incarcerated umbilical hernia may cause abdominal pain and damage to the tissue. The lack of blood supply to the trapped portion may lead to the death of abdominal tissue. And it may cause a life-threatening infection in the abdominal cavity.
It is recommended to undergo surgery if your baby’s umbilical hernia does not heal on its own until the age of three or four years old. Furthermore, if the umbilical hernia only appears in adulthood, emergency surgery is usually required. This is because adults with umbilical hernias commonly experience a blockage of the intestines.
Here are some symptoms of incarcerated umbilical hernia in a baby:
- Inflammation in the hernia sac
- Painful feeling around the belly button
- Changes in the color of the belly button area
Talk to your doctor or take your baby immediately to the emergency room if you notice any symptoms of incarcerated hernia. A doctor’s intervention is needed to know what treatment is best for your baby’s condition.
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How to treat umbilical hernia in a baby?
Treatment of incarcerated umbilical hernia in babies typically includes surgery. If your baby has an umbilical hernia, your doctor may suggest you wait until your child reaches the age of three or four years.
When your baby is four years old and the bulge is still above its navel, then your doctor may recommend your child undergo surgery. Especially if the condition is causing your child discomfort and pain.
What to expect before, during, and after surgery?
To help you anticipate how surgery is done to repair your child’s umbilical hernia, here’s what to expect: Your baby needs to follow a strict diet on the day of the surgery, before the removal procedure of the umbilical hernia. This is recommended to reduce the risk of vomiting and prevent inhaling fluids while the kid is under anesthesia.
Additionally, the surgeon will discuss the guidelines with you before doing the surgical procedure. Afterward, your little one will be given general anesthesia to relax the child’s muscles and put them to sleep. Anesthesia is needed so your child will not feel any pain during the surgery.
While your child is asleep, the surgeon will make a small cut or incision at the bottom of the belly button. They will find the hernia sac and push the intestine back to the abdominal cavity.
Then, the surgeon will remove the remaining hernia sac. After that, the doctor will stitch the muscle wall to prevent the hernia sac from coming back. Lastly, the skin around the belly button will be sewn to the muscle beneath it.
By the next morning after the surgery, your child may feel fine and can go back to eating regular foods.
The incision is expected to heal four to six weeks after the umbilical hernia surgery. As weeks pass by, expect that the wound area will soften and eventually fade.
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How to help your kid recover?
Of course, surgery is not a little thing for our little ones. Helping your baby heal from the effects of surgery is necessary. To help your child recover from umbilical hernia surgery, here are the things that you can do:
- Give them pain relievers prescribed by their doctors. If you opt to use over-the-counter pain medication for your kid, make sure to follow the instructions on its label. But it is always better to ask your doctor for the proper dosage your child needs.
- Refrain from letting them do activities that may pressure the incision area. Restrict certain activities such as organized sports and riding a bicycle. You may talk to your doctor to know when you can allow your child to do such activities. This is important to avoid damaging their surgery wound.
- A tub bath may be restricted for a while. You can give your kid a sponge bath instead. Ask your health care provider when it is safe for your kid to have a tub bath again.
- Protect the skin around the incision by avoiding clothes that can cause friction against the wound. Aside from that, make sure to protect it too from the sun because the new skin can burn easily.
According to Cleveland Clinic, umbilical hernia surgery is proven safe and has a low risk of complications. The procedure is beneficial to prevent your child with an umbilical hernia from experiencing more pain.
Mommies and daddies, remember, if your baby’s umbilical hernia does not heal when they are already four years old, it is essential to talk to your doctor.
If you have any concerns regarding your baby’s umbilical hernia, your health care provider knows the best solution for your baby’s condition.
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