Hernia After C Section Delivery
- What Is a Hernia?
- Are Hernias Common After a C-Section?
- Is It Dangerous to Have Hernia After C-section Delivery?
- What Causes a Hernia After a Cesarean Delivery?
- Risk Factors
- What Are the Symptoms of a Hernia After a C-Section?
- How Is a Hernia Diagnosed?
- What Are the Complications of a Hernia Post C-Section?
- How to Treat a Hernia After a C-Section Delivery?
- Tips to Prevent Hernia After a Cesarean Delivery
- When to See a Doctor?
Most pregnant women want to give birth to their babies in the most natural way, but that is not possible for all of them. 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 in for a Cesarean delivery.
While there are fewer complications associated with a Cesarean delivery, 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 that there are ways to treat it. Let’s take an in-depth look into this.
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 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 a Cesarean delivery, since an incision is made 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?
Women can get a hernia after a C-section delivery. Although the occurrence is rare, there is a possibility that one can occur.
Certain studies have calculated that about 2 out of 1,000 women who had a Cesarean delivery ended up having a hernia, which was then corrected surgically. These hernias tend to be more apparent in women who had Cesarean deliveries through an incision at the top or bottom of the abdomen. By comparison, women with incisions on the side of the abdomen have had lower instances of a hernia. Most hernias tend to make themselves evident within the first year post delivery. Some hernias tend to occur right after the delivery, while many others take place within 3 years following the delivery.
Is It Dangerous to Have Hernia After C-section Delivery?
A small hernia can be about the size of a grape and only involves the abdominal lining. This type of hernia can persist for years without causing any problems.
Large protrusions or hernia that involves the intestine carries a greater risk of complications. In case the tissues become incarcerated or strangulated, they can get infected. This problem requires surgery as soon as possible.
What Causes a Hernia After a Cesarean Delivery?
The reasons behind the occurrence of an incisional hernia after a C-section delivery depend on a variety of factors. Some of these can be surgery-related, while a few may be linked to the physical characteristics of the woman. Following are the reasons for a hernia in women after a C-section delivery:
- Women who have weaker abdominal tissue may 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.
- 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.
- Having a lot of coughing and sneezing during C-section recovery can increase the pressure on your incision and rupture it.
- Straining during bowel movements can be one reason, as it causes a lot of pressure in your abdomen.
Such hernias make themselves evident only in physical appearance, and these have to be corrected through external intervention alone.
Apart from the causes mentioned above, there are a few other important factors that play a key role in calculating the risks of a hernia after a Cesarean delivery:
- If a woman has had multiple pregnancies, all of which ended with a Cesarean delivery, her chances of having a hernia increase tremendously with each 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 weak from the previous occurrences.
Letting your doctor know about your history of hernias or surgeries that you have had is extremely important before proceeding with a Cesarean delivery.
What Are the Symptoms of a Hernia After a C-Section?
While the most evident symptom of a hernia is its presence itself, a few other symptoms can also be present as the body’s reaction to a hernia. Hernia after C-section symptoms include:
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 that appears to emerge from the region where the incision for the surgery was made. 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. You may also feel it when you cough.
It is difficult to diagnose a hernia, because the abdominal skin becomes loose and bulgy as the uterus begins to shrink and the body starts healing the wound. Therefore, a simple visible observation might not be enough to confirm the presence of a hernia.
2. Constipation Accompanied With Nausea
Since a Cesarean section 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 food and excreting 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 tend to experience some 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 even after the wound has healed, it might indicate the presence of a hernia.
How Is a 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 or a haematoma might make it difficult to make a quick diagnosis. 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 a 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 (internal bleeding)
- 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, surgery is the best option. If your doctor deems it unsafe to proceed with one right away, he may advise making use of abdominal binders to provide you with support for a hernia and to reduce the pain and discomfort. A surgery may be conducted either by making an incision and correcting the hernia, or through a laparoscopy.
Tips to Prevent Hernia After a Cesarean Delivery
It is common to experience hernia post-C-section delivery. Here are some tips you can use to prevent hernia after the cesarean delivery:
- Stick to guidance related to movement and exercise while recovering after giving birth.
- Treat constipation quickly to avoid any straining.
- Ask your doctor for a cough suppressant if you develop one post-delivery.
- Take allergy medication to treat sneezing after consulting with your doctor.
- Maintain a healthy body weight.
- Go for alternatives to steroid medications.
- Avoid smoking.
- Do not do any heavy lifting.
- Don’t try or plan for another baby until at least six months after your c-section.
- Wait for at least six weeks before having sex after your cesarean.
When to See a Doctor?
If you notice any bulges in your stomach post your cesarean, you must immediately consult your doctor as it could mean:
- Diastasis recti
- Uterine rupture
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 a possibility of re-occurrence of a hernia after a Cesarean delivery?
The chances of re-occurrence of a hernia are pretty slim if the surgery is conducted successfully. Even so, you must take precautions.
4. Is hernia surgery worse than a Cesarean delivery?
Open abdominal surgery may appear like a cesarean section, but the recovery is typically easier. You can get back to daily activities within 1 to 2 weeks and strenuous activity after 6 weeks of the surgery.
The presence of a hernia can be quite worrisome for a new mother. However, if caught and diagnosed early, necessary measures and steps can be taken, and you can still enjoy your time with your little one.
1. Incisional Hernias; mountsinai.org; https://www.mountsinai.org/care/surgery/services/general-surgery/conditions/hernia/incisional-hernia
2. Repeat C-sections: Is there a limit?; mayoclinic.org; https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/c-section/expert-answers/c-sections/faq-20058380
3. Incisional Hernia; hopkinsmedicine.org; https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/hernias/incisional-hernia
4. The Risk of Hernia After C-Section and How to Prevent It; mothersandmore.org; https://www.mothersandmore.org/hernia-after-c-section/