Should I Have My Umbilical Hernia Repaired?

In life, there are some times where you belatedly realize the importance of what just happened. For me, having my umbilical hernia repaired was one of those things. So, if you’re wondering if I think you should have your umbilical hernia repaired, yes. Yes, I do.

What is an umbilical hernia?

umbilical herniaAn umbilical hernia is when your intestines start to come through your abdominal wall near the belly button area. Plainly stated, it’s when there you have an “outie” when you used to have an “innie”. The bulge can be sensitive and sometimes painful. While there are several types of hernias, umbilical hernias only happen near the belly button. According to the Mayo Clinic, they are common in babies and can often heal on their own. However, with anyone age 4 or older, umbilical hernia repair often requires surgery.

What causes an umbilical hernia?

Now, you might be wondering What on earth could happen to make my intestines start to come through my abdominal wall?! Great question. There are many things that can cause a weakening in the abdominals. Obesity, pregnancy (especially multiple pregnancies), and abdominal surgeries can cause a weakening or thinning of the abdominal wall.

How is it fixed?

Most often mesh is used, but sometimes the doctor can stitch the abdominal muscle back together. My doctor explained it to me like this:  Imagine you have a pair of jeans that you wear all the time. Because of the use, the material at the knees may start to thin. You may even find one day that there is a rip at the knee. Now, that material has thinned, so there’s not really any good material in that area that will hold a stitch. You’d have to really reach far and gather material for stitches to hold, but that would look really odd and those jeans wouldn’t feel right on your leg anymore.

drawing of umbilical hernia repair with meshHowever, you could put a patch beneath the rip. That patch would give you solid material to work with, and the knee of your jeans would feel pretty much like it used to. Now, there’s still no 100% guarantee that the patch is going to totally work and fix things because some times patches fail, but in most cases, it will work.

Why am I advocating for umbilical repair?

The Wednesday after Christmas, my mailman and I got to chat when he brought me a package. (God Bless Amazon Prime.) He told me he was going to have surgery the following day to have his umbilical hernia repaired, so he wouldn’t be bringing my mail for a while.

I smiled and said, “It’ll change your life!”

He asked me what I meant by that, so I told him that I had had an umbilical hernia since I was pregnant with my first child in 2011. It was extremely painful while I was pregnant, but after delivery, it really didn’t bother me at all. I didn’t even think about it being there, let alone think about fixing it. However, after my second child, it became really obvious that I had a gaping hole in my gut about 3 finger tips wide and 3 finger tips long.

I could very easily notice when my intestines were falling out, and I could put them back in by lying on my back and carefully pressing them back into my abdominal cavity. If you can’t tell by my italics, it horrified me to be so closely dealing with organs that are supposed to be protected. In addition to the general nastiness of having to put my intestines back in my body, the hernia caused my core to be pretty worthless. I suffered from back pain and was unable to hold adjustments, my pubic bone also kept coming out of place, and no matter what core work I tried, things just weren’t getting fixed.

Well, if you read my posts about New Years Resolutions, you might remember that 2016 was the year I decided to put myself back together again. When my child began weaning, I consulted a doctor and got scheduled for surgery in June. Sure, post-op is no picnic. However, after a couple of days, I started decreasing my pain meds.

After about a month, I really started noticing a difference. Consistently, I started feeling better. My adjustments started holding better. I could move without pain regularly! It was amazing. I almost felt foolish for not having it fixed sooner.

Living with an umbilical hernia is like using a laundry basket with a hole cut out of the middle. Sure, you can still kind of carry your clothes, and if you walk really slowly, you can gather what you drop and put it back in the basket. It’s fine; you can get by. However, if you got to have a laundry basket with no whole? Well, that’s a whole different story.

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Sarah Stockett is STOTT certified in Matwork, Reformer, Cadillac, Chair, & Barrels, Injuries & Special Populations, and CORE; a Yoga Alliance RYT-200; and has studied Active Isolated Stretching. When she is not trying to discover the best exercises to get rid of pain, she likes watching movies and travelling with her family.

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