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All pregnant women want to give birth to their babies in the most natural way, but not all women are fortunate. Certain medical reasons or the incorrect position of the baby prior to the birth may lead to complications. Hence, your doctor may suggest that you go for a cesarean delivery. There are very fewer complications associated with a cesarean delivery; however, there have been instances where an abdominal hernia was spotted after a C-section. There is no reason to be alarmed by this, and it is important to know that this is a rare occurrence. And there are ways to treat it.
What is a Hernia?
Many people believe that a hernia generally affects males, which is why the occurrence of that in a woman is a surprise to many. In simple medical terms, a hernia occurs when any part or organ of your body pushes through an opening in the muscles that hold it in place.
In case of cesarean delivery, since an incision takes place in the abdomen to deliver the baby, there is a possibility that the outer lining of the abdomen will push its way out of the incision, leading to a hernia.
Are Hernias Common after a C-section Birth?
Women can get a hernia after C-section delivery; although the occurrence is rare, there is a possibility for sure.
Certain studies have calculated some statistics and concluded that nearly 2 out of 1000 women who had a cesarean delivery ended up having a hernia, which then is corrected surgically. These hernias tend to be more apparent in women, who have had a cesarean delivery by carrying out an incision on the abdomen in the top to bottom manner. Compared to it, incisions that have been side to side have had lower instances of a hernia. Most hernias tend to make themselves evident within the first year following the delivery.
What Causes Hernia after a Cesarean Delivery?
The reasons behind the occurrence of an incisional hernia after a C-section delivery depends on a variety of factors. Some of these can be process related, while a few may be linked to the physical characteristics of a woman. Following are the reasons for a hernia in women after a C-section delivery:
- Women who have a weaker abdominal tissue fail to keep the abdomen in place, increasing the risk of a hernia.
- The presence of gestational diabetes during pregnancy can increase the chances of a hernia as well.
- If you are overweight, the pressure on the abdomen throughout pregnancy and delivery is higher than usual, which increases the chances of pushing the lining through the incision.
- Certain cases deem it necessary to make the incision larger than usual for a successful delivery, which increases the chances of a hernia.
Such hernias make themselves evident only in the physical appearance and these have to be corrected with external intervention alone.
Apart from the ones mentioned above, there are a few historical factors as well that play a key role in elevating the risks of a hernia after a cesarean delivery.
- If a woman has had multiple pregnancies, all of which have resulted in a cesarean delivery, her chances of having a hernia increase tremendously following each delivery.
- Some hernias tend to occur right after the delivery, while many others take place within 3 years following the delivery.
- A pre-existing history of abdominal hernias may increase the risk of it happening again after a c-section since the abdominal wall might already be pretty weak from the previous one.
Letting your doctor know about any history of hernias or surgeries that you might have had is extremely important before proceeding with a cesarean delivery.
What are the Symptoms of Hernia after a C-Section?
While the most evident symptom of a hernia is its presence itself, a few of them can also be present along with it as the body’s reaction to a hernia.
1. A Bulge in the Abdomen
This is a classic sign of a hernia and it usually makes itself visible in the form of a bulge, which appears to emerge from the region where the cesarean incision was done. At times, the bulge can be present around the entire region as well.
Some women may have this right after their delivery, but they generally tend to notice it only in the months following the delivery. The bulge is more evident once you stand up straight and stretch or when you try to lift an object to a height. You may also feel it when you cough.
It is difficult to diagnose a hernia because the abdominal skin becomes loose and bulging as the uterus begins to shrink and the body starts healing the wound. Therefore, a simple visible observation might not be enough to conclude the presence of a hernia.
2. Constipation Accompanied with Nausea
Since the cesarean affects the entire abdominal region, the intestines and the stomach can be affected as a result of it, too. Any disturbance to the position of the intestines could make them inefficient in processing the food and excreting the waste, leading to constipation. A disturbance in the stomach can get the stomach irritated, leading to nausea.
3. Pain in the Abdominal Region
This is one of the most confusing symptoms of a hernia since most women do tend to have a little amount of pain, following a cesarean delivery. The healing process and the abdominal bulge may work together to cause the discomfort, but if this continues to be so even after the wound has healed, it might indicate the presence of a hernia.
How is Hernia Diagnosed?
Most doctors can take a look at the abdomen and diagnose a hernia if it is severe. However, the presence of an infected wound, or a ruptured uterus, along with endometriosis and hematoma might make it difficult to make a quick diagnosis as such. In such cases, your doctor may do a CT scan or an ultrasound to get a better idea of how a hernia is present within.
What are the Complications of Hernia Post C-section?
Following are the complications associated with a hernia post a c-section delivery:
- Abdominal cavity fills with fluid
- Bleeding inside the body
- Bowel blockage
- Perforation of the bowels
How to Treat a Hernia after a C-Section Delivery?
To treat a hernia post a c-section delivery, the best option is surgery. If your doctor deems it unsafe to proceed with one right away, he may advise making use of abdominal binders to provide you with the support for a hernia and reduce the pain and discomfort. A surgery may be conducted either by making an incision and correcting the hernia or by means of laparoscopy.
Here are a few questions that frequently arise when a hernia is discovered after a c-section delivery.
1. How Long Does it Take to Recover after a Surgery?
Usually, it takes around 6 weeks to recover completely after a hernia surgery.
2. What If Hernia is Left Untreated after a Cesarean Section?
Minor hernias might not require surgery, but severe ones can get fatal if left untreated.
3. Is There Any Possibility of Reoccurrence of Hernia after a Cesarean Delivery?
The chances of reoccurrence of a hernia are pretty slim if the surgery is conducted successfully. Even so, you must take precautions.
The presence of a hernia can be quite debilitating for a new mother. However, by knowing how to prevent a hernia after a C-section, you can take the requisite measures to reduce the risk, and enjoy your time with your little one.