As a parent of a newborn baby, you’re probably looking forward to seeing your baby’s belly button heal as soon as possible. In most cases, the umbilical cord stump dries out in a few weeks and falls off without any complications, exposing the navel.
However, when you notice that your baby’s belly button looks bigger and feels harder than it should be, you might want to check with the doctor whether it’s an umbilical hernia.
Let’s take a closer look at what an umbilical hernia in babies is, its causes, and when you should worry about it.
What Is Umbilical Hernia in Babies & What Causes It?
When the baby is in the womb, the abdominal muscles below the navel close, forming an umbilical ring. Sometimes, they don’t close completely and leave a little hole behind. An umbilical hernia happens when part of a child's intestines pushes through that hole inside the belly button. It usually looks like a small bump under the belly button.
What Are the Symptoms of an Umbilical Hernia?
Umbilical hernias are very common in babies younger than six months old. The main visible sign of an umbilical hernia is an under skin bump near the baby’s belly button.
Other symptoms may include:
- Due to the abdominal pressure, the bump becomes harder when the baby cries, strains, or coughs
- Mild swelling in the belly button area
- When there are no complications, the hernia isn’t painful to touch
If the intestine gets stuck in the muscle wall opening and cannot be pushed back easily ("incarcerated” hernia), your baby might have the following symptoms:
- Pain and soreness without touching the hernia
- Full, round belly
- The hernia looks larger and more swollen
- The skin near the hernia is darker or discolored
If you notice any of the symptoms mentioned above, call your doctor immediately. If your child has no signs of an incarcerated hernia, contact your doctor if the umbilical hernia doesn’t disappear by the time your kid is five years old.
How to Get Rid of Umbilical Hernia in a Baby?
Often (80%), the umbilical hernia isn’t painful and disappears without any problems by the time a child turns 4-5 years old. If it doesn’t go away by itself at that age, a doctor might suggest surgery.
Usually, the doctor can try to gently push the umbilical hernia back where it belongs in the abdomen. This type of hernia is called "reducible." Otherwise, your doctor might ask you to wait and see whether the hernia disappears with time before turning to surgical interference. The treatment will depend on your child’s age, health condition, and the condition of the umbilical hernia.
Do You Need Surgery?
If your child’s umbilical hernia doesn’t close by ages 3 to 4 or you notice severe symptoms that indicate an “incarcerated” hernia, usually the pediatrician will advise undergoing surgical repair.
This type of surgery is very common, and in most cases, your child will be able to get back home the same day. During the umbilical hernia surgery, your kid will be under full anesthesia. The doctor will make a small cut in the belly button and place the intestine back into the abdominal cavity. The muscle opening will then be covered with a few layers of stitches to prevent the hernia from reoccurring.
Do Umbilical Hernia Belts Work?
Even though umbilical hernias rarely appear again, you might want to consider an umbilical hernia belt to support and protect the weak area around your baby’s belly button. It can also be useful during the umbilical hernia post-surgery recovery.
Here at Lauftex, we’re focused on bringing the medical products that our customers need to relieve their symptoms. The new Lauftex Baby Hernia Belt helps relieve hernia symptoms in newborns, and the umbilical band provides a comfortable fit around your newborn’s delicate belly.
P.S. Always consult your child's doctor to see what is best for your kid.