Your pregnant belly button

As your pregnant belly grows, your belly button may pop out and turn from an innie to an outie. Many pregnant women say their belly button feels weird or uncomfortable, too. 

large pregnant belly showing belly button flattening
Photo credit: Thinkstock

How your belly button changes during pregnancy

The most visible sign of pregnancy is an expanding belly. As your uterus pushes up and out to accommodate your growing baby, expect your belly button to change, too. It may flatten as your belly stretches.

In your second or third trimester, your expanding uterus can put enough pressure on your abdomen to push your belly button out. And just like that, your "innie" turns into an "outie."

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These belly button changes usually aren't painful – but many women report that their belly button feels weird or uncomfortable during pregnancy. If the feeling of your shirt rubbing against your belly button is unpleasant, you may want to cover it with an adhesive bandage or wear looser clothes.

Some expecting moms wonder whether the inside of their belly button is somehow connected to their uterus. It's not. In most adults, the belly button isn't connected to anything – it's just a remnant of your attachment to your mother in the womb.

During pregnancy, your baby's umbilical cord is connected to your placenta inside your uterus. Soon after birth, your baby's cord is cut, leaving the healing umbilical cord stump (your baby's belly button). Inside your baby's body, the veins and arteries that linked to the umbilical cord collapse.

Belly button pain during pregnancy

Belly button pain is unusual during pregnancy, but it can happen.

Your belly button is the thinnest part of your abdominal wall. (This is because it's where you were attached to your mother by your umbilical cord, years ago.) As your belly grows, your belly button may become more sensitive to the touch. And it can pull on and stretch any scar tissue left over from a past surgery.

Some pregnant women develop an umbilical hernia – a weakness or opening in the fascia (the tough tissue that keeps our insides in) and muscles around the belly button. Umbilical hernias are usually small and harmless, though if you have one you may notice a bulge in your belly button when you cough or sneeze.

Umbilical hernias often shrink after pregnancy, but not always. Depending on the hernia's size and how much it bothers you, you may choose to have it surgically repaired. Talk to your doctor or midwife at your first postpartum appointment for guidance about next steps.

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In very rare cases, pregnant women can develop an incarcerated umbilical hernia, which can be very painful. An incarcerated hernia happens if a piece of your intestines pushes out through an opening in the tissue, bulges into your bully button, and gets stuck. The intense pain comes from the piece of intestine getting squeezed into a small space.

If this happens, along with pain, you'll probably feel a hard lump next to your belly button. This can be a surgical emergency, so call your provider if you have severe belly button pain during pregnancy and think you might have an incarcerated hernia.

What will your belly button look like after pregnancy?

Your new, more prominent or flatter belly button probably won't stay that way for long. Many women see their belly button return to its normal size and shape after delivery.

But every new mom, and every belly button, is different. Especially after several pregnancies, your belly button may look stretched. There's also a chance that your outie could become a permanent part of you. Pregnancy changes many parts of our bodies, sometimes temporarily, sometimes permanently.

Occasionally, women have plastic surgery (called umbilicoplasty) because they're unhappy with the look of their belly button after pregnancy. The surgery can make a stretched or distended belly button look more vertical and less wide. It's only advised once you're done having children, since future pregnancies will change the look of your belly button again.

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What will a belly button piercing look like after pregnancy?

For many moms, a belly button piercing doesn't look much different after pregnancy. The piercing may be a little bit larger or slightly stretched-looking, though this is different for each mom.

You don't need to remove your belly button jewelry during pregnancy, unless it gets caught on your clothing or is uncomfortable. But around 20 weeks, many women trade metal jewelry for Teflon body jewelry (known as PTFE, or polytetrafluorethylene), which flexes with a growing belly.

Follow your baby's amazing development

BabyCenter's editorial team is committed to providing the most helpful and trustworthy pregnancy and parenting information in the world. When creating and updating content, we rely on credible sources: respected health organizations, professional groups of doctors and other experts, and published studies in peer-reviewed journals. We believe you should always know the source of the information you're seeing. Learn more about our editorial and medical review policies.

Cleveland Clinic. 2019. Why do some women's belly buttons pop out during pregnancy? a new window [Accessed December 2021]

Michigan Health. 2017. Treating postpartum hernia: What new mothers should know. a new window [Accessed December 2021]

NHS. 2018. Umbilical hernia repair. a new window [Accessed December 2021]

UT Southwestern Medical Center. 2017. Why belly button pain during pregnancy is still a mystery. a new window [Accessed December 2021]

Stephanie Watson
Stephanie Watson is a freelance health and lifestyle writer based in Rhode Island. When she’s not busy writing, Watson loves to travel, try new cuisines, and attend as many concerts, shows, and plays as she can fit into her busy schedule.