Q&A: I have belly button pain and I'm pregnant. Should I be concerned?
I am pregnant and have sharp pains in my stomach around my belly button. What could be causing this? Could there be something wrong?
Pregnancy causes some strange sensations. You are exactly right—the trick is to figure out if this could be anything serious, or if it is just one of the usual aches and pains that goes with the territory.
Your belly button is where your umbilical cord was attached when you were a fetus. It represents a weak spot in the abdominal wall, because the blood vessels that fed you nutrients and oxygen had to run through there. Umbilical hernias occur when the area is weak enough that there is actually a little defect in the fibrous sheet (fascia) that lines your inner abdominal wall. If you feel an opening under the skin in that area, or a painful swelling, talk to your doctor or midwife. Intestines can get caught in the defect leading to bowel strangulation, a surgical emergency. But that is unlikely.
More commonly, the belly button may be sore from being stretched, or from a uterine fibroid directly under that area. The round ligaments, muscular bands that attach the top of the uterus to the groin on each side can spasm, causing sharp pains that are usually felt on one side or the other. Sometimes round ligament pain is brought on by a sudden movement, like rolling from one side to the other in bed. Usually this pain resolves on its own, but can be made better quickly by lying on the side that hurts, taking the ligament off stretch. Gastrointestinal issues like gas, constipation, and reflux can also cause sharp pains.
Pregnancy is full of unusual sensations that can be hard to distinguish from serious problems. Any pain that is very severe or recurrent, or doesn’t go away in a few hours should be reported to your doctor or midwife so they can ask you appropriate questions to determine if you need to be seen. If you are worried, it is always better to call and feel a little silly, than to stay home trying not to bother anyone and later find out that you should have called earlier. All pregnant women should have a phone number to call for off-hours urgent questions and concerns. Hopefully this will turn out to be just one of the many annoying but insignificant sensations of pregnancy.