Belly button pain during pregnancy: Causes and Treatment

Belly button pain during pregnancy Causes and Treatment
Medically reviewed by Richard Honaker M.D.

Overview

Experiencing belly button pain during pregnancy can be concerning, especially when accompanied by inflamed, red, or cracked skin or severe and sharp discomfort. While most cases do not lead to lasting complications, it is important to understand the potential causes and available treatments. This article explores the common reasons for belly button pain during pregnancy. It offers practical home remedies, prescription medications, and over-the-counter options to relieve pain. 

Why do I have sharp pain near my belly button during pregnancy?

Experiencing sharp pain near your belly button during pregnancy can be concerning. Understanding the potential causes can help manage and alleviate this discomfort. Here are some common reasons for lower belly pain that can occur at any stage of pregnancy:

Urinary tract infection (UTI)

UTIs are relatively common during pregnancy, but doctors can usually treat them easily. They can occur at any time while pregnant. Symptoms include:

  • pain or pressure in the lower belly area
  • pain or burning while urinating
  • fever
  • feeling extremely tired
  • feeling shaky
  • needing to urinate more often
  • foul-smelling urine
  • reddish or cloudy urine

Doctors can test a urine sample to diagnose a UTI, while treatment usually involves antibiotics.

Gas

Trapped wind is a possible cause of lower belly pain in pregnant women. This happens because:

  • pregnancy hormones can slow digestion
  • the growing uterus puts pressure on the digestive system
  • pregnancy-related constipation disturbs the balance of the digestive system
Suffering from belly button pain during pregnancy? Getting a doctor’s advice can save your baby from complications.

First trimester

During the first trimester, the following are potential causes of low belly pain:

  • Early pregnancy: In the early stages of pregnancy, many women experience period-like pain or cramps, usually low down in the belly. This is normal as the egg settles into the uterus.
  • Ectopic pregnancy: Ectopic pregnancy is a rare but potentially life-threatening condition. It occurs when a fertilized egg grows outside of the uterus, usually in the fallopian tube. As the egg develops, it can burst the tube, which can cause serious internal bleeding.

Early signs of ectopic pregnancy include:

  • mild pain in the lower belly or pelvis
  • vaginal bleeding
  • pain in the lower back
  • mild cramps on one side of the pelvis

These symptoms can worsen as the egg grows. Signs of a ruptured fallopian tube include:

  • sudden, severe pain in the belly or pelvis that does not go away
  • pain in the shoulders
  • weakness
  • dizziness
  • fainting

A ruptured tube is a medical emergency that requires immediate attention. Doctors will normally use a combination of medication and surgery to treat an ectopic pregnancy. Treatments will trigger the body to reabsorb the egg and repair the ruptured fallopian tube.

Worried about the cause of belly button pain during pregnancy? Don’t take the risk and get a proper diagnosis.

Second trimester

During the second trimester, low belly pain is commonly caused by stretching muscles and ligaments. Later in pregnancy, the muscles and ligaments supporting the uterus stretch as the belly expands. Women might feel a dull ache across the belly or a sharp pain on one side. It might worsen when they stand up, get out of bed or the bath, or cough. Round ligament pain is a common complaint during pregnancy. 

Third trimester

The following causes of low belly pain are more common during later pregnancy:

  • Braxton-hicks contractions: A potential cause of belly pain later in pregnancy is Braxton-hicks contractions. Doctors sometimes call this false labor. Braxton-Hicks contractions are part of the body’s preparations for giving birth and usually occur in the week before delivery. They help make the cervix softer and thinner. Many women find the pain goes away if they go for a walk or change position.
  • Pre-term labor: Belly pain that does not go away when the woman moves around may be a sign of pre-term labor. This means giving birth before week 37 of pregnancy.

Signs and symptoms of pre-term labor include:

  • Pain or pressure in the lower belly
  • A dull backache that doesn’t go away
  • Belly cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Contractions
  • A change in vaginal discharge quantity or consistency – it might be more watery, mucusy, or bloody

Anyone who experiences any labor symptoms too early should call a doctor straight away.

How to relieve belly button pain during pregnancy?

Experiencing mild belly button pain during pregnancy is common and usually resolves on its own. However, there are various ways to ease the discomfort. Here, we explore home remedies, over-the-counter (OTC) medicines, and prescription medications that can help.

Prescription medications

For more severe pain or specific conditions, your doctor may prescribe medications:

  1. Antibiotics for UTIs
  1. Antispasmodics

Dicyclomine (Bentyl) is sometimes prescribed to relieve abdominal pain caused by spasms. Use with caution and under the guidance of a healthcare provider.

  1. Medications for Gastrointestinal Issues
  • Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs): Omeprazole (Prilosec)
  • H2 receptor antagonists: Ranitidine (Zantac) (Consult your doctor as some H2 antagonists have been recalled or restricted)

These medications can help manage acid reflux and digestive issues that may contribute to abdominal pain.

  1. Antibiotics for infections
  • Metronidazole (Flagyl): Prescribed for certain bacterial infections.
  • Clindamycin (Cleocin): Used to treat various bacterial infections. 

Always follow the dosage and administration instructions provided by your healthcare provider.

Inform your doctor about any other medications or supplements to avoid potential interactions.

Regular prenatal check-ups can help monitor the health of both mother and baby and address any concerns timely.

Get a prescription for your bellybutton infection. Discuss and get the antibiotic safe for your baby.

Over-the-counter medications

OTC medications can also be effective for managing belly button pain:

  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol): Safe for use during pregnancy, acetaminophen can help alleviate mild to moderate pain. Note that nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen should be avoided, especially in the third trimester, unless specifically advised by a doctor.
  • Simethicone (Gas-X): Helps relieve gas-related pain and is considered safe during pregnancy.

Home remedies

For mild cases of lower belly pain, consider these home remedies:

  • Resting: Taking time to rest can help alleviate discomfort.
  • Heating pad: Applying a heating pad to the affected area can provide relief.
  • Cold compress: A cold compress can also help reduce pain and swelling.
  • Massage: Gently massaging the belly may ease pain.
  • Relaxation techniques: Deep breathing, meditation, or prenatal yoga can help reduce stress and discomfort.
  • Exercise: As your healthcare provider approves, light exercise can improve circulation and reduce pain.
  • Soothing emollients: For relief, consider home remedies such as calamine lotion and aloe vera gel, which can be easily purchased online.

Applying warm or cool compresses to itchy or painful areas may relieve discomfort. Be sure to avoid using very hot compresses or ice packs that are not wrapped in a towel, as they may cause burns and increase sensitivity. Applying calamine lotion or aloe vera gel can soothe sensitive skin around the navel.

If the pain is not due to an umbilical hernia, pregnancy massage may help. A systematic review found that massage, including partner-delivered massage, provided moderate relief from lower back and pelvic pain.

When does your belly button pop out in pregnancy?

As your baby grows, the expanding uterus can pressure your abdominal wall, causing your belly button to pop out. This phenomenon is most likely to occur during the second or third trimester of pregnancy, typically around 26 weeks.

When to consult a doctor?

If you find no relief from the pain, it’s important to seek your doctor’s advice for alternative solutions. Immediate medical attention is necessary if you experience severe pain or any of the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Swelling
  • Cramping
  • Bleeding

These signs could indicate an infection, hernia, or another medical condition that requires treatment. Also, if your skin becomes inflamed, red, or cracked, or the pain is sharp and severe, consulting a doctor is essential. While most causes of belly button pain during pregnancy are not serious and won’t lead to long-term complications, getting a proper diagnosis is crucial for peace of mind and health.

FAQs about belly button pain during pregnancy

Is it bad to touch your belly button while pregnant?

No, touching your belly button during pregnancy is generally safe. The baby is well-protected inside the uterus, so daily contact with your belly won’t harm them.

Does your belly button change during pregnancy?

Yes, your belly button can change during pregnancy. As your uterus expands to accommodate your growing baby, it can push your belly button outwards or make it appear stretched or flattened, especially during the second or third trimester.

Is your belly button connected to your uterus?

No, your belly button is not directly connected to your uterus, placenta, or the baby’s belly button. In adults, the belly button is not connected to anything internally. However, it did play an important role in fetal development as the site of the umbilical cord attachment.

Your Doctors Online uses high-quality and trustworthy sources to ensure content accuracy and reliability. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions and medical associations to provide up-to-date and evidence-based information to the users.

  • Bilić, Hrvoje, and Dražen Ažman. “Wartenberg’s migratory sensory neuropathy associated with pregnancy: a case report.” Acta Neurologica Belgica 121 (2021): 779-780.
  • Hui, Celene. “EFFECTS OF PREGNANCY ON THE BODY.” ALL ABOUT EVE: Your Women’s Health Questions Answered. 2022. 73-85.
  • Duxstad, Kelsey, et al. “Belly Bundle Fetal Monitoring Assistant.” (2011).

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