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  • Nakausli Ba ang Pusod ni Baby? What You Should Know About Umbilical Hernia

    An umbilical hernia is usually painless, but in extreme cases it might require surgery
    by Lei Dimarucut-Sison .
Nakausli Ba ang Pusod ni Baby? What You Should Know About Umbilical Hernia
PHOTO BY @Kwangmoozaa/iStock
  • When does a baby begin breathing on his own? Many think that the baby can already breathe while inside his mother’s tummy, but the surprising answer is this: A baby will only take his first real breath when he is born.

    Even while he is passing through the birth canal (if he is born vaginally) moments before he goes out into the world, the baby will still not be breathing on his own. How, then, does he breathe while he's inside the womb?

    The fact is that inside the womb, babies breathe and get their supply of oxygen — and life-giving nutrients — through the umbilical cord.

    According to Wikipedia, the umbilical cord is a fleshy, rope-like organ that contains one vein which carries oxygenated, nutrient-rich blood to the fetus. It also contains a gelatinous substance that acts as a protection to the blood vessels inside it. It acts as a conduit between the mother and the unborn baby, hence, the umbilical cord is called a baby’s lifeline inside the womb.

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    The umbilical cord starts to develop at around 6 weeks of gestation. It is connected to the placenta, which develops during pregnancy and is also connected to the uterus.

    When the mother gives birth to her baby, the doctor will clamp the umbilical cord before cutting it using a sharp pair of surgical scissors. It’s worth mentioning that delayed umbilical cord clamping has been proven to be beneficial not only to premature babies (or those born before 37 weeks of gestation) but even to full-term babies.

    (However, in what is called a lotus birth, the newborn remains attached to the umbilical cord — and the placenta — after birth. Some moms prefer to give birth this way, and you can read about lotus births here.) 

    When the umbilical cord is cut, a small portion of it will remain attached to the baby’s navel, while the rest of it is generally discarded along with the placenta.

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    Caring for the umbilical cord

    The umbilical cord stump, or that portion which remains with the baby, will dry up and fall off in about three weeks to a month.

    While your baby’s umbilical cord stump is healing, utmost care is required to make sure it does not get infected. Treat it gently by doing the following:

    Keep the navel area dry

    In the olden days, the elderly would put a piece of clothing called bigkis around the baby’s waist and over the stump to protect the navel. However, the best way to treat the umbilical cord stump is to keep it exposed to air.

    Do not use alcohol to clean it

    The research found that doing so might cause the wound to take longer to heal because the alcohol could kill the bacteria that helps dry up the stump. 

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    Take care when giving your baby a bath

    So as not to get the area wet during baths, it is best to stick to giving your baby sponge baths.

    Let the stump be

    The stump should dry up and fall on its own in about a month. Resist the urge to pull it, no matter how loose it may seem, or you’ll risk hurting the baby.

    When the stump falls off, do not be surprised if you notice slight bleeding. However, do let your doctor know if the area becomes irritated and swollen, reddish, or if pus comes out of the navel.

    In some cases, a bulge or bump may be noticed around the navel area after the umbilical cord stump has fallen, making it look like an “outie.” If this is the case, your baby may have what is called an umbilical hernia.

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    What is an umbilical hernia?

    An umbilical hernia is a gap or hole in your baby’s abdominal muscles where the umbilical cord used to be. It is where the baby was connected through the umbilical cord to the mother. Typically, this hole closes up, but when it doesn’t, part of the intestines could stick out through it, forming a bulge. 

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    Symptoms of umbilical hernia

    Your baby’s umbilical hernia will be most noticeable when he’s crying, straining to poop, or is coughing. The bulge becomes more evident then because these activities put a strain on the abdomen. An umbilical hernia won’t usually be painful, but in some cases, it may hurt. If your child appears to be in pain, begins to vomit, or the area around his navel shows some discoloration, go to the hospital immediately. 

    Treatment for umbilical hernia

    Your doctor will be able to confirm with you if your child has umbilical hernia by doing a physical check-up on him. An umbilical hernia may go away on its own, or your child’s doctor may deem it necessary to close the hole through surgery. He will advise you on the best course of action to take. He may ask you to wait it out first until your child is a few years old and more fit to undergo surgery.

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    Risk factors

    Babies who were born prematurely and those with low birth weights are most at risk of developing an umbilical hernia. If the part of the intestine sticking out becomes trapped (incarcerated hernia), it could cause a few complications. The lack of blood supply to the intestines could lead to tissue damage, resulting in tissue death, which could infect the abdominal cavity. In extreme cases, this could become life-threatening.

    When is surgery needed?

    If diagnosed during infancy, your doctor may advise you to wait until your child is about 4 to 5 years old before the procedure is performed. 

    The procedure will take less than an hour, during which time the child will be placed under anesthesia. The surgeon will make a small incision below the belly button, which will allow him to see if part of the intestine is indeed poking through. If this is the case, he will push it back to its rightful place and stitch up the opening. This will get rid of the “outie” look. After the procedure, your child may rest for a few hours in the hospital and continue to recuperate at home.

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