An umbilical hernia is a bulge in the belly-button area that is a part of an intestine, fluid or fat in the opening a baby’s abdominal muscles. It can sometimes be a loop of the intestine that has moved into the opening, blocking a complete closure. The umbilical cord connects the blood supply from mother to child during pregnancy. After birth, the umbilical cord shrivels up, falls off and the abdomen closes. However, when the abdominal muscle tissues are herniated, it is because the abdominal muscles are weak and the closure is incomplete. Infants that are low weight or born prematurely have a higher risk of a herniated umbilical cord. The number of occurrences is equal both sexes but has been seen to be higher in babies of African descent. The hernia is a rare and occurs in roughly 3% of all infants. The bulge usually appears to be about 1 inch in diameter and is more noticeable when the baby is upset.
There are some old customs in regards to a herniated umbilical that are still widely used by many cultures today. One old custom involves using a thick band that wraps around the baby’s mid-section over the belly button area. The band is used to help baby achieve a perfect “innie” belly button as opposed to the “outie” appearance, where the navel is protruding. If the skin is soft, it can be pushed back.
A coin is placed on the protruding area before the band is wrapped around the waist in the belief that it will “hold the abdominal contents in.” This method has been used since the early 1800’s and has been handed down for generations in many families. The Juju Band is an updated version of this type of band.
If the bulge is hard, or excessively large, this method is not recommended. The abdominal muscles normally grow in strength and size in 3 to 4 years, allowing the muscle to fuse, and the hernia or the hole to close. In most cases, an umbilical hernia is harmless but if the hole has not closed by the age of 4 or is larger than 1 inch in diameter, it may require medical assistance. If you are concerned about your baby having an umbilical hernia, consult your pediatrician.