Up to 10% of babies develop a swelling near the navel on the site where the umbilical cord entered their abdomen: this is known as an umbilical hernia. It is caused because your baby has weak abdominal muscles and they are allowing the intestines to push through a little.
Umbilical hernias are sometimes only visible when your baby cries, laughs or uses their abdominal muscles. Most umbilical hernias heal and clear up within a year without any medical treatment. Umbilical Hernias are not painful for your baby.
Some parents are not even aware that their child has an umbilical hernia until their doctor examines the child at the six week check-upappointment. If your child has an umbilical hernia, you will be advised to keep an eye on it and if it grows to consult with your health visitor or doctor.
If your child’s umbilical hernia has not gone by their first birthday, your doctor may advise surgery to remove the hernia. If your child requires this, they will be put to sleep by a general anaesthetic and the surgeon will push the bowel and intestines back into place and stitch the muscles shut. This operation is usually carried out in day surgery and your child should recover quickly but will require pain relief for the first few days.
Your doctor or Health Visitor will be able to explain the procedure in more detail and answer any questions that you have, should your child require this operation.
by Jenny, mum to William and James