Your belly button will go through a series of changes during your pregnancy, most of which are completely normal.
The good news is most of these changes are temporary, and your pre-baby belly button will eventually be back.
In this article, we will discuss what causes your belly button to change during pregnancy, and what you can do about it.
Why Does Your Belly Button Change During Pregnancy?
As your baby grows, the amount of space inside your belly region becomes limited. There is little muscle covering your belly button, so as your uterus grows, it can push right up against it (1).
When you notice your belly button popping out, that means you are one step closer to meeting your little one.
Your expanding uterus is making room, and the only direction your belly button has to go is out as your abdomen faces forward. Some moms are afraid their belly button can be stretched so far that it can literally pop. This is not the case!
Your skin is extremely elastic, but it knows its limits. Your belly button will not fall off.
When Should Your Belly Button Pop Out?
You will probably notice this change around your second or third trimester. More specifically, around the 26th week. This occurs due to the stretching of the skin along with the pressure from an enlarging uterus. Some people joke and say your belly button is like a timer, once it pops out, your baby is nearly ready to come out of the oven!
If your belly button hasn’t made its outward voyage yet, don’t be alarmed. Some women’s belly buttons don’t pop out. They stay the same, or they become flat. This all depends on your weight before pregnancy and how much you have gained or stretched during your pregnancy.
It’s possible some women will experience the popping of their belly button in one pregnancy, and not in the next.
It doesn’t mean something is wrong if your belly button doesn’t pop out. You can consult with your doctor just in case and make sure that your little one is growing on schedule.
Is A Popped Out Belly Button Painful?
Most expectant mothers don’t even realize their belly button has popped out because it is almost always pain-free. It is not unusual to go to bed one night with an innie and wake up the next morning with an outie.
The actual act of popping is pain-free. The biggest disturbance is visual, not physical. It’s strange to look down and see that newly-prominent belly button.
It may take some getting used to because your belly button will be visible through your clothes, but other than that you shouldn’t have any other issues.
Some patients do mention slight pain when their belly button pops out. This is usually due to the stretching of the skin in the thinnest region of the abdomen, more so than the act of the belly popping out. If there is a sharp consistent pain in the region, however, it is important to let the doctor know as it can be referred pain from another organ in the abdomen.
Editor's Note:Dr. Njoud Jweihan, MD
If you had an innie before becoming pregnant, you could notice some irritation. Your belly button is not used to being directly against clothing so that the rubbing could cause irritation.
Moms who experience this have been known to tape over their belly button or place a bandage over it. A maternity support belt that eases the pressure of a rapidly growing abdomen has also been helpful to many pregnant women. Otherwise, your newly-expanded belly button is harmless (2).
Other Issues You May Have Noticed
Other symptoms can arise from your belly button expansion.
Some of these include:
Your belly button has popped out because your uterus has significantly grown. This growth causes your skin to stretch, which can lead to itchiness around your belly — especially your belly button. Sometimes severe itching can give a clue that something more serious is occurring such as an infection of the belly button. Always contact your doctor if you are concerned and if the itching is not resolving or increasing in severity.
2. Umbilical Hernia
A hernia is when parts of an internal organ abnormally exit through a hole in a nearby muscle. These occur because of increased abdominal pressure. Anyone can develop one, especially during pregnancy.
If you notice an enlargement associated with pain and tenderness around your belly button, this could be the culprit. These have the potential to be dangerous if your intestines are protruding through the abdominal muscle since they can become trapped with decreased blood flow.
Symptoms that will help you determine if you have a hernia include a soft lump that is more noticeable as you lay down, an achy feeling around the area, and pain upon sneezing or bending.
You should consult with your doctor to make sure everything is safe, and to determine treatment options if necessary (3). Some surgeries can reverse this if it is serious, but it is a risky surgery during pregnancy. Usually, the issue can be fixed once your baby has been delivered.
3. Dark Rings
Some mothers experience dark lines around their belly button. This is normal and is due to skin pigmentation, likely from hormones. It is also possible that as your skin stretched, light bruising occurred from the leaking of blood vessels under the skin. Remember that as your belly button becomes an outie it can become extra sensitive and develop what looks like a dark ring or bruise if it is irritated such as when rubbing against clothing.
4. Linea Nigra
This is a dark line that extends from your navel to your pubic bone. Not all women will get it during pregnancy. It is usually present before pregnancy but is called linea alba which means white line and is not visible.
The linea nigra is not the least bit dangerous — hormones cause an increase in melanin which is the hormone used for pigmentation and that is why we see the change in color. This line is usually always present, but not visible until later in pregnancy. This line fades on its own after pregnancy.
Can You Stop Your Belly Button From Popping Out?
The best thing you can do about your belly button popping out is embracing it. This is a milestone in your pregnancy — you are one step closer to meeting your little baby.
Your belly button will not be in this permanent state forever. Just think, the popping out was a result of that little life inside of you growing bigger and bigger.
That is something that should make you proud, not embarrassed. Most pregnant women experience the belly button pop, so own it!
It is only temporary, but if it bothers you there are ways that you can help mask its appearance underneath your clothing. You can wear tank tops underneath your shirts or choose a thicker fabric that won’t cling to your outie and accentuate it.
Belly Button Piercings and Pregnancy
Piercings are not a pain-free experience, so the thought of having to get yours redone after pregnancy can be a mood killer. Many moms can maintain their piercing throughout their entire pregnancy, so you might not have to go back in for round two!
Every woman is different, and depending on how your baby grows, your belly button could be barely affected.
Some doctors will advise you to take out your piercing as a preventative measure. This is ultimately your decision, but you should follow your doctor’s advice (4).
As your belly grows, there could be a significant amount of pressure put on your belly button that can make your piercing painful. The piercing can rub against clothing and get stuck, many moms describe this as a pulling sensation. If you experience this it’s important you remove your piercing.
The traditional piercing does not allow enough “wiggle room” which can lead to significant irritation. Some piercings are flexible and designed specifically for pregnancy.
Don’t be discouraged if you have to remove your piercing; you can always get another. Your beautiful baby will be more than worth the sacrifice.
Avoid getting piercings during pregnancy as your immune system is not at its strongest levels, and the skin is extra sensitive leading to a higher chance of developing an infection.
Can Your Belly Button Reveal Your Unborn Baby’s Gender?
There are some old wives’ tales that suggest that the shape of your belly button during pregnancy that can help you predict the gender of your baby.
There is no evidence to suggest that any of these are accurate. It is best to have a doctor give you gender confirmation using a reliable testing method.
The Bottom Line
Pregnancy is an emotional roller coaster of a journey to motherhood. There are so many changes your body will go through, that it seems crazy that something so small like your belly button is even affected.
You have had to accept so many changes — your belly button should be the least of your worries. Unless you potentially have an underlying issue, embrace that pregnancy belly.
Each pregnancy is unique, and if you ever have another one, it will be a completely different journey than this one.