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About three years ago I discovered a weird bulge next to my pelvic bone on my left side. It was not visible just by looking at me, you had to push on my abdomen and manipulate it. My primary physician said it was an inguinal hernia and I was sent to two surgeons--one who confirmed it and another who couldn't find it. I was completely asymptomatic, aside from an occasional dull ache or two. I basically forgot about it and never had it treated.
I am now eight weeks pregnant and very anxious about what this could mean for me and my baby. I've noticed it a lot more lately (this could be due in part to my anxiety causing me to fear the worst) and I'm concerned about the likelihood of my intestines becoming strangulated in this hernia, especially as my abdomen begins to expand from the pregnancy. The thought of having surgery while pregnant is very scary to me. Additionally, can I have a vaginal delivery with an inguinal hernia? It seems to me like all the pushing and pressure of labor and delivery would be dangerous. I plan to discuss this with my midwife in a few weeks when I see her again, but wanted an opinion in the meantime.
It may or may not be a comfort to you to know that inguinal hernia is relatively common during pregnancy. Women who are normally asymptomatic sometimes notice the bulge increase because the ligaments stretch and loosen due to the hormones.
Most of the time no surgery is needed. It is quite rare for the hernia to become incarcerated, and the pregnancy is actually protective--as you get further along, the uterus forms a barrier between the bowel and the hernia.
There is no contraindication to a vaginal delivery. Most women who DO become more symptomatic during pregnancy get better again after the delivery.
Bicycle pants work nicely as a "truss" if the hernia begins to bother too much.
Finally--if you DO need surgery--the procedure for an inguinal hernia repair is very simple, quick and can be done under local or spinal anesthesia.
I hope this is somewhat reassuring.
Congratulations on the pregnancy!
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