Hand to Hold's Official Blog: Written by Parents for Parents


Did you know that it is very common for preemie babies to have hernias? Well, I didn’t but I sure learned.

When Drake was 6 weeks old he was well on his way to going home. Nurses made whispers of how he may go home soon with how well he was eating. Suddenly Drake started throwing up all he ate and then stopped eating. His stomach quickly became distended. This happened in a matter of hours. The staff was baffled. They put him back on IV feedings and worked to figure out what was happening. We were all very scared and worried. I was on my way into the hospital when I got the call that they were considering the possibility of him having NEC. I knew NEC was bad and could be deadly so I was terrified. I raced the rest of the way there in tears. In the short time it took me to get there, Drake’s left testicle had become enlarged and bright red.

Everyone was excited because the problem revealed itself. He had a hernia! However, they were all very concerned and rushing to get the surgeon in to see him. This was also very dangerous, but they were happy they at least knew what they were dealing with. What Drake had was a strangulated hernia. His intestines had pushed through into his testicle and twisted. Since the intestine was twisted it would not allow his food to pass through. This was also very dangerous because it cuts off the blood supply to the intestines.

The surgeon assessed and confirmed the hernia and that he would need emergency surgery. As they prepared him to leave it was some of the hardest times for us as parents. I knew it was bad when we had a majority of the nurses in the row all gathered around me and some in tears themselves.

Off to surgery Drake went and I had to go pump….how fun! Did I mention this all happened on my husband’s birthday?

Anyhow, luckily Drake went through surgery fine and the intestines looked healthy still. Unfortunately, he did lose a testicle due to damage caused by the hernia.

There are several types of hernias that can happen with preemies and girls are not excluded. With their bodies not fully developed they can’t support the pressure of crying, coughing, pooping, etc. Hernia can appear in several parts of the body.

Drake also ended up with an umbilical hernia. This is a hernia that occurs in the belly button. This occurs when the umbilical ring, where the umbilical cord went through doesn’t close allowing a hernia to occur. Luckily this hernia did not get stuck and it did not require surgery. It was just weeks of a very large outie belly button and eventually it got smaller and smaller and went away. We just had to keep making sure it was able to be pushed back in, which was quite interesting let me tell you.

Drake will always have an outie belly button because of it but we’ll take it.


  1. Thanks for sharing! My daughter was a 24 weeker & came home on oxygen. She was home alittle over a month and just cried for 4 days. We took her to the doctor & he found a hernia in her groin. I then had to rush her back to her NICU hospital to see a surgeon. He confirmed a walnut size hernia & pushed it back in her. It took about 10 minutes of her in a full fledge cry ‘& screaming fit but she was so happy afterwards. Since Oct it has popped once more but we caught this one & the ER got it back in in 30 seconds. She has been off oxygen since christmas which means she can now have surgery. Feb. 9 we go. Poor babies! These children have encountered more than babies should!! Your little one is SO adorable!!

  2. Thanks Amber! He is my little miracle, upon a miracle, created by a miracle. 🙂
    I wish you well on your surgery. Will say a prayer for you guys on the 9th. Although I am sure it will go smoothly, surgery is surgery and is never fun.

  3. my son had 2 at the time of birth (2 pounds 5 oz)

  4. my son had 1 at the time of birth (2 pounds 7oz) but went down shortly afterwards.

  5. My son had an umbilical hernia from birth (24 weeks) to 5 months. Then one day it just went away, just like the doctors said. It was caused by the art. line in his belly.

  6. My daughter had a umbilical hernia present at birth, it got quite large and started to shrink when she was 3 months old. She was 6 weeks early emergency section at just over 4lbs.

  7. My daughter had the umbilical hernia up till she was 8 months, now she has tiny one between her chest bones 23 weeker

  8. my son had one he had to have surgery a little after he turned 1 because it was causing problems when he was trying to walk he was a 29 weekr now he’s 3

  9. Our son ended up having three hernia surgeries all before a year old.

  10. My son (26 Weeker) 1 lb 7oz had an umbilical hernia and an inguinal hernia. He had to have surgery on the ingunial hernia at 5 months of age 2 months after being discharged from the nicu…..The umbilical hernia just went away on its own

  11. My daughter had one (27 weeker, 2 lbs 8oz) and now she’s one and it looks like she never had one. Her belly button looks normal and i was sooo worried.

  12. Yup. Ella, my 29 weeker, had an umbilical hernia which wasn’t a big deal but then she got a…I can’t remember what it was called but a hernia in her groin. Her ovaries had “dropped” and herniated. They had to go in and fix both ovaries and while there were in, they did the umbilical one as well. My 34 weeker also had an umbilical hernia but it resolved on its own.

  13. Yes,my 2nd preemie Braeton(34wkr) had both an umbelical hernias and inguenal (sp?) which were lower. They fixed both and he hasnt had any complications from either. His belly button is just slightly an “outie” but is perfect (& cute) to me. Thanks Dr.Keller & all at SLCH-you ALL are AMAZING!!

  14. My 29 weeker has had 2 ~ an umbilical one that closed on its own around 5 months old and one in his boy parts that we are keeping an eye on. Chances are that one will need repair eventually…

  15. I had twin sons at 27 weeks, a little over 2lbs each. One of my twins had 2 hernia operations, one week apart and the other boy didn’t have any. The first hernia operation, he was sent by ambulance to a Children’s Hospital for the surgery.

  16. My son Kaleb was born @ 24 weeks he had a hernia in his left testical and he still has one in the belly button

  17. My preemie 6 weeks early at 34 weeks has hernia above belly button they want do nothing says got turn black oronce she turn 2 or 3 stay away ffrom shands jax tbey will ruin you your child they went from professional to training my daughter has HIE which is partially brain damage due to the hospital they wouldn’t listen as well they sent me home bleeding without knowing what was wrong

    • Hi Ashley. I’m sorry you are having this experience. I encourage you to get a second opinion from another pediatrician if you have concerns about the hernia or any other concerns about your baby. If you feel you need additional support, please let us know. ~Leigh Ann

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