Why You Might Have Bellybutton Pain During Pregnancy

Medically reviewed by Nicole Galan, RN on January 26, 2016Written by Ashley Marcin on January 26, 2016
Belly Button Pain

Women might experience a variety of discomforts throughout pregnancy. One ache you might not expect? Bellybutton pain.

Here’s why your bellybutton might hurt, how to ease the discomfort, and when to see your doctor.

What to Expect

During pregnancy, your body goes through tremendous changes from one month to the next.

Some women don’t experience any bellybutton pain. Others might have pain in one pregnancy, but not the next.

If you’re uncomfortable, don’t fret. Bellybutton pain is common. It’s more likely to start as your belly gets bigger, especially in the second and third trimesters.

What Causes It?

The reason you’re experiencing bellybutton pain could depend on your body shape, how you’re carrying, and your skin’s elasticity. Or, a host of other factors and/or possible medical conditions could be to blame.

More often than not, the pain isn’t dangerous. It should go away with time, or after delivery.

Here are some of the common culprits.

Stretching

Your skin and muscles are stretched to the max by the end of your pregnancy. You can develop stretch marks, itchiness, and pain as you go through stages of rapid growth. Your bellybutton is at center stage during all this moving and shifting. The bellybutton can get irritated in the process.

Piercing

Do you have a bellybutton ring? If it’s a new piercing, you might want to take it out to avoid infection. It can take a piercing up to a year to fully heal. If you think you might have an infection (warmth, itching, burning, oozing, etc.), don’t remove the jewelry without asking your doctor. You could seal the infection inside and cause an abscess to form.

Pressure from Uterus

In the first trimester, your uterus is relatively small and doesn’t reach far beyond your pubic bone. As the uterus pops up and out, you start showing. The pressure from the inside of your body pushes on your abdomen and bellybutton.

By the third trimester, your uterus is up way beyond your bellybutton. It’s pressing forward with the weight of the amniotic fluid and baby, among other things.

Have you ever heard a woman say her bellybutton has popped? Usually this phenomenon happens in very late pregnancy. It just means that a bellybutton that was once more of an “innie” has protruded out with the added pressure from the uterus and baby. Even if you have an “innie,” your bellybutton may stay put and not pop.

Either way, this situation can contribute to any bellybutton discomfort you might feel.

Umbilical Hernia

An umbilical hernia happens when there’s too much pressure in the abdomen. This condition doesn’t just affect pregnant women. But you’re at a higher risk of developing it if you’re pregnant with multiples, or if you’re obese. Along with bellybutton pain, you might notice a bulge near your navel, swelling, or vomiting.

Contact your doctor if you have any of these signs. Without treatment, you could develop serious complications. If the hernia traps any of the organs or other tissue in your abdomen, it may reduce their blood supply and cause a life-threatening infection.

Ease the Discomfort

Your bellybutton pain may come and go throughout pregnancy as you experience stages of rapid growth. Some women may get used to the pressure and stretching early on. For others, the pain is worse during the final weeks when your belly is the biggest.

Taking pressure off your belly may help. Try sleeping on your side or supporting your belly with pillows to take a load off.

A maternity support belt may help alleviate back and abdominal soreness while standing. You can also apply soothing pregnancy-safe lotions or cocoa butter to skin that’s itchy and irritated.

When to Call Your Doctor

Still no relief? Your doctor may have other suggestions for what could help.

Contact your doctor right away if your pain is severe or you’re experiencing:

Your doctor will need to rule out an infection, hernia, or other medical condition that might require treatment.

The Takeaway

As with most discomforts during pregnancy, your bellybutton pain will likely disappear soon. At the very least, it will go away after delivery. Check in with your doctor if you’re concerned, or if the pain is intolerable. 

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