There’s a lot to adjust to during the nine months of pregnancy. A common pregnancy complaint involves the area surrounding the belly button. While some women experience little to no pain, others experience increasing pain around this area. Pregnancy-related belly button pain is typically par for the course and shouldn’t cause any concern. Let’s take a look at the reasons expecting mothers may experience this pain.
Think of this pain as a true growing pain. As your baby continues to grow, the uterus expands and stretches out both the abdominal muscles under this area and the skin over it. Women with an “inny” may in fact wake one morning to discover that they have an “outty”, while women with an “outty” may wake one morning and find that it appears to have grown in size. Both these scenarios are normal and shouldn’t cause alarm. As your baby increases in size, your belly will expand and this may literally cause you growing pains. It’s also common for the belly button to increase in sensitivity. When selecting maternity clothing, this is an important consideration. Opting for clothing that is loose and avoids gathering in the abdominal area can help avoid chaffing and general irritation.
The good news is that these growing pains often cease towards the third trimester. By this point, your muscles are accustomed to stretching and just kind of go with the flow—the same thing happens to your skin. Regularly applying lotion, shea butter, or coconut oil can soothe over-stretched skin and ease discomfort.
Some women also find that this comes and goes throughout pregnancy; this type of pain often results from the baby’s position, particularly during the last trimester. A well-aimed soccer kick to the belly button region, or the constant pressure of a head or arm can cause extended discomfort until your little one decides to shift into a different position.
While most of this is merely an aspect of pregnancy, there is a serious condition requiring medical monitoring and potential intervention: an umbilical hernia. Although rare, this is a serious issue that does cause abdominal pain. An umbilical hernia occurs when the intestines spill through a hole in the abdominal wall, typically near the belly button. Though many cases resolve themselves after the baby’s birth, some cases are more serious and require surgery.
Remember: no one knows your body better than you. If you suspect something is wrong, always call your OB or midwife and schedule an appointment. He or she will be able to properly evaluate your situation, and put your mind at rest or develop a treatment plan that is best for you and the baby. And although this type of pain may range from annoying to awful, keep in mind that it too should pass…and when it’s over, you’ll have your little one in your arms.