Belly button pain in pregnancy is a common complaint for many women, and though most of the time it is not a cause for concern, occasionally it can indicate an issue that requires medical attention. Often, pregnant women feel discomfort around their navels as the muscles and skin stretch. Later in pregnancy, the expanding uterus may press on the belly button, causing pain. Women with navels that push outward when they normally go in may have particularly sensitive skin in the area that can become irritated from contact with clothing. In some cases, this type of pain can mean an umbilical hernia, so women should always notify their healthcare provider to determine if treatment may be required.
Many women experience belly button pain due simply to the expansion of their abdomens and the resulting stretching of tissues there. As a woman's belly grows, the skin over it needs to expand, including that over the belly button, particularly if it changes from protruding inward to protruding outward. The abdominal muscles also stretch and split during pregnancy, which can cause pain. For many women, pain from these changes often only lasts through the first half of pregnancy.
Another possible cause of belly button pain in pregnancy is uterine pressure. As the baby grows and the uterus expands outward, it can push on the navel to the point that it becomes painful. This issue is more common in the later months and weeks of pregnancy.
Pregnant women who normally have inward protruding belly buttons that are pushed outward by the growth of their bellies may be more apt to feel pain in this area. This is because the skin of their navels is typically not exposed, and when it is, it may become chafed or irritated by contact with their clothing. Covering the navel with a bandage or wearing softer clothing may help with this issue.
One potentially serious cause of belly button pain in pregnancy is an umbilical hernia. This is a condition where a hole in the abdominal wall near the navel allows parts of the intestines to push through. Often, an umbilical hernia requires no treatment and resolves itself once the pregnancy is complete. In cases where the tissues pushed through the hernia become trapped outside their normal place in the abdomen, however, surgery may become necessary to keep the tissue from dying.