Most pregnant women experience pain in their bellybutton or navel, especially during the second and third trimester.
The bellybutton is the attachment point for the placenta in the womb. It is not attached to any part of the abdominal cavity after birth.
Most causes of bellybutton pain are harmless and will disappear after the baby is born.
Causes of Bellybutton Pain during Pregnancy
Possible causes of bellybutton pain during pregnancy include:
The skin and muscle around the belly stretches during pregnancy due to weight gain and shifting organs. The stretching can sometimes cause diastasis recti, which occurs when the rectus abdominis muscles, commonly called ‘abs,’ separate into left and right halves. The abs are a pair of large muscles that start below the breastbone and end at the pelvis.
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Diastasis recti is not directly responsible for navel pain, but it eases the amount of tissue between the uterus and the bellybutton, which may increase sensitivity to pressure in the area. Skin stretching may also cause some localized pain and itchiness on and around the bellybutton.
The uterus expands beyond its usual position to accommodate the fetus as it grows. This movement causes pressure to mount on the abdomen and the bellybutton.
During the second trimester, the uterus no longer fits inside the pelvis, so it now sits between the navel and breast. By the third trimester, the uterus stretches from the pubic area to the bottom of the ribs.
The position of the baby in the womb and the growth of the uterus can exert pressure on the bellybutton, causing pain and discomfort.
Hernia may sound dangerous, but it does not typically harm a pregnant woman or fetus. An umbilical hernia is a medical condition that occurs when pressure pushes the bowel into the umbilical cavity. It can then get trapped there, leading to pains and inflammation.
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Umbilical hernias can be caused by increased uterine pressure. Doctors may recommend watching and waiting rather than performing surgery on the hernia, unless it is causing major symptoms.
However, if there is a risk of strangulation, the doctor may perform surgery. Incarceration and strangulation occur when part of the bowel does not receive enough blood. A reduced blood supply can cause tissue death and other complications.
Popped belly button
A popped bellybutton occurs when pregnancy pushes a women’s inward bellybutton outward. A popped bellybutton can cause pain and sensitivity.
During pregnancy, a woman may need to remove any bellybutton piercings. If the piercing is pulling on the tightened skin, there is the possibility it may tear.
A torn or injured bellybutton can increase the risk of infection. If the piercing is less than 1 year old, it may still be healing, so a woman should speak to a doctor about removing it.
- Applying warm or cool compresses to the area may help relieve pain and discomfort.
- Avoid using very hot compresses or ice packs that are not wrapped in a towel, as they may cause burns and increase sensitivity.
- You can apply calamine lotion or aloe vera gel to soothe sensitive skin on and around the navel.
- If the pain is not due to an umbilical hernia, pregnancy massage may also help relieve pain.
When to see a doctor
If the skin is inflamed, red, or cracked or if the pain is sharp and/or severe, see a doctor.