Your Belly Button During Pregnancy: Changes, Pain & More

As your pregnancy progresses, you may observe changes in your belly button.

“Innies” pop out to become “outies,” and you may notice your navel becoming irritated by clothing. As your little one grows, you may touch your belly more than usual too.

It’s perfectly safe to touch your belly button during pregnancy as your baby is well cushioned under layers of amniotic sac fluid, the muscular uterus organ, and your belly fat. Touching your belly is encouraged late into your second trimester as your baby can respond to your touch.

As your belly accommodates another human being, you may find that all the stretching and expanding cause discomfort in your belly button from time to time, and you may even have some pain.

This is perfectly natural and should ease as you progress through your pregnancy. Let’s take a look at these changes, answer common questions about belly button pain, and more.

Belly Button Purpose

Your belly button, medically known as the umbilicus, is something everyone has as it’s the leftover tissue from the umbilical cord that connected to your mother, providing oxygen and nutrients to you during her pregnancy.

In adulthood though, belly buttons serve no real purpose (although it can provide a more straightforward opening for laparoscopic surgery to prevent a scar elsewhere on your abdomen!).

Though our adult belly buttons are not connected to anything, maternal-fetal medicine specialists like Dr. Robyn Horsager-Boehrer are often asked by pregnant patients if pain in that area is caused by a tugging, assuming that the button connects directly to the uterus or placenta.

Some pregnant women also worry that touching their belly will somehow hurt the baby, but your little one is far too cushioned for this to be the case.

OB-GYN and associate clinical professor Kelly Kasper notes that your baby is surrounded by a sac of amniotic fluid in your thick and muscular uterus, which is surrounded by your skin and belly fat.

Belly Button Changes During Pregnancy

You’ll start to see changes in your belly button around the second trimester due to everything growing in size down there. Around this time, you can expect to see:

1. “Innies” Becoming “Outies”

Your expanding abdomen will make life-long innie buttons pop out. In rare cases, extreme belly button protrusions in pregnancy or postpartum can be umbilical hernias.

If they don’t flatten when you press on them, consult your doctor.

2. Itching

The amount your skin stretches to accommodate a baby can make things quite itchy and irritated.

Staying hydrated and keeping the site well moisturized is advised, but speak to a doctor if the itching is severe as this could indicate a forming rash.

3. Belly Button Flattens

Your progressing pregnancy can also cause your belly button to stretch taut against your skin and lie flat (like a flap of skin with an indent). This is normal and usually reverts to your normal button shape after birth.

4. Discomfort From Navel Piercings

Belly button rings look cute, but many healthcare practitioners will advise removing them due to the risk of the ring tearing through the umbilical skin as your belly expands. Ouch.

In some cases, a silicone ring may be placed in the piercing temporarily, but find out what your doctor suggests.

A woman wearing light blue underwear with white polka dots holding her pregnant belly.

Belly Button Pain During Pregnancy

It’s common for some pregnant women to feel a painful sensation in their belly button.

Though medical opinion is undecided as to why this occurs, it’s believed that the stretching abdomen and thinner tissue around the area could be contributing to it.

Is Belly Button Pain a Sign of Miscarriage?

Pain in the belly button does not indicate a miscarriage.

Any severe pain felt in the abdomen must be reported to your doctor though, as belly pain on one side coupled with vaginal bleeding can be a sign of ectopic pregnancy.

Sharp Pain in Belly Button During Early Pregnancy

Our belly button is located in the thinnest part of the abdominal wall, so Dr. Horsager-Boehrer believes that greater sensitivity in this area could be why women experience sharp pain here during pregnancy and does not last long when it does:

“In my experience, the belly button pain typically gets better later in pregnancy,” adding, “Until then, local warmth or a maternity support belt might help alleviate the discomfort.”

Sharp Pain Near Belly Button During Pregnancy Second Trimester

By the second trimester, the uterus no longer fits inside the pelvis, expanding to its new position (between your navel and breasts).

This extra exertion of pressure from the uterus onto the abdomen can inevitably lead to pain around your belly button as you grow.

Sharp Pain Around Belly Button 37 Weeks Pregnant

Toward the end of your third trimester (37 to 38 weeks), the uterus expands from the pubic area to the base of your ribs.

Uterus growth coupled with your baby’s position in the womb can place a lot of pressure on the belly button, causing pain and discomfort.

Increased pressure and discomfort in your lower abdominal area are normal during the later stages of pregnancy as your body prepares you for delivery.

However, be sure to keep your midwife/doctor updated if something doesn’t feel right.

How To Relieve Belly Button Pain During Pregnancy

Gynecologist Dr. Sabiha Anjum at First Cry Parenting has recommended the following for banishing belly button pain in pregnancy. You can try things like:

  • Wearing loose clothing to prevent rubbing.
  • Using calamine lotion to ease itchiness and tea tree oil in case of abrasion near the belly button.
  • Sleeping on your side, ideally with a support pillow under your belly to take pressure off.
  • Wearing a maternal support belt like this one. This may not work for every woman, but it is thought to help ease abdominal pain while standing.
  • Cocoa butter for irritated skin on the belly.

Belly Button Discharge During Pregnancy

Belly button discharge during pregnancy can be caused by certain infections and cysts:

  • Yeast infection: Thick, white discharge accompanied by a red, itchy rash on the belly button.
  • Bacterial infection: Foul-smelling yellow or green discharge accompanied by swelling, pain, or a scab around the belly button skin.
  • Urachal cyst: Cloudy or bloody discharge, usually combined with abdominal pain, a fever, painful urination, and a lump in your abdomen.
  • Epidermoid cyst: Red and swollen bump in your belly button with foul-smelling thick yellow discharge.

Abdominal surgery, such as a hernia repair, may also result in pus draining from your belly button, so report this to your doctor as it could indicate an infection.

How To Remove Dirt From Belly Button During Pregnancy

To prevent infection and hopefully irritation in the area, it’s important to remove dirt and debris from your belly button during pregnancy.

Your fingernail or a pair of tweezers risk scratching the skin and causing an infection, so always use a clean cotton swab.

After showering or exercising, use a new cotton swab to gently remove accumulated dirt and sweat, and be sure to dry your navel well after bathing or swimming to prevent moisture and bacterial growth.

Related Questions:

Can Baby Feel When I Rub My Belly?

Yes. Research has found that babies can respond to a mother’s touch from the outside as early as 21 weeks into pregnancy.

Using ultrasound imaging, the study revealed that fetal heart movements and heart rate increased whenever mothers rubbed their belly.

Is It Bad To Press on Your Stomach While Pregnant?

Babies are very well protected in the womb, so pressing on your stomach during pregnancy should not be a cause for concern.

It would take a traumatic event for significant pressure to be placed on your pregnant stomach, resulting in symptoms of bleeding, contractions, or changes in your baby’s movement.

Closing Thoughts

In pregnancy, your ever-expanding uterus places pressure on your abdomen, which in turn puts pressure on your navel, resulting in discomfort and pain.

Your baby’s position in the womb can add extra pressure to your belly button.

While pain and sensitivity are normal in your belly button, don’t hesitate to speak to your doctor if your belly button or abdominal pain feels out of the ordinary or severe as it could, in rare cases, be a sign of an infection or pregnancy complication.