pregnancy

Kari Horn's post-baby belly photo is one you don't see very often.

Every mum knows her stomach is never quite the same after having a baby. Maybe there’s some soft extra flesh, or a few stretch marks. Maybe there’s a caesarean scar.

In Kari Horn’s case, it was something even more dramatic. The Virginia mum has shared a photo of her stomach following surgery for umbilical hernias, and it’s gone viral.

Horn gave birth to her son 18 months ago. The pregnancy came as a surprise.

“When we found out I was pregnant, we were all pretty shocked and worried, because up to that point I had been made to believe that I couldn’t conceive because of endometriosis and a retroverted uterus,” she told The Huffington Post.

Horn’s pregnancy had to be closely monitored, and she ended up giving birth via emergency c-section.

Kari Horn. Image: Instagram.

After the birth, everything seemed to go well. The only unusual thing Horn noticed in the months that followed was that she had a bulge about the size of a golf ball just above her belly button.

About six months ago, the bulge started causing her serious discomfort.

"I could take a single bite of food, and it would feel 'stuck' in that spot and make me feel full," Horn told Cosmopolitan.

The bulge also caused her discomfort when she was holding her son or even just breathing.

A colleague suspected she might have a hernia, and a doctor confirmed it.

Listen: The Bump podcast examines exactly what a doula does. (Post continues after audio.)

An umbilical hernia occurs when the muscles around the belly button are weak, and a small part of the gut pushes through. It’s more common in women who have frequent pregnancies or multiple births. Horn’s doctor said it was related to her having a large baby (her son weighed 4kg).

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Horn had surgery in January, where it was found she actually had three hernias.

She no longer finds it uncomfortable to eat, breathe or hold her son, but there’s still some pain.

“I’m convinced that after a C-section and triple hernia repair, I will never have proper strength back in my abs or a pain-free day,” she says.

Last month, Horn made the decision to share a photo of her stomach on Instagram. She wanted to be more open about “the parts of motherhood they don’t talk about much”.

Image: Instagram.

“Sometimes, despite what your dream of childbirth is, you have to have an emergency c-section,” she wrote.

“Sometimes, no matter how much coconut and vitamin E oil you put on your pregnant belly, you still get all of the stretch marks. Sometimes, even when your baby is now a toddler, you find out that you have not one, but three umbilical hernias, and you have to get your abs and muscles cut into again.

"Then sometimes you’re allergic to the bandaging the doctor used and end up with burns and a rash all over your already sore tummy.

“Yet despite the fact that I may not have much of a belly button after all of this, I’m really only worried about how I’m going to get all of that stitch glue out of my belly button.

“Mothers are the real MVPs. Don’t hate on yourselves, ladies. You’re beautiful no matter how many scars you get.”

Was there an aspect of pregnancy nobody warned you about?

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