You might be thinking, “Wait a minute, I shower. Don’t talk like I miss my belly button when I do it—what’s the point of cleaning a belly button more than a whole-belly once-over?” You might also wonder if there’s anything you could possibly do to your belly button while you’re pregnant that would be different from cleaning your belly button normally.
Okay, maybe in your last point you got me. Your belly button does change over time, however, and pregnancy is typically what does it. Cleaning your belly button is as important when you’re pregnant as when you’re not, but there are a couple of additional things to keep in mind if you have a baby underneath.
Why’s it important to clean your belly button?
According to leading dermatologists, your belly button is the home of more than 60 types of bacteria. Any of these can lead to infection and odor, which you doubly don’t want while you’re pregnant. Have you been smelling things—both good and bad—a little more intensely these days? You really don’t want one of those smells to be something nasty in your belly button.
Still, why are we talking about cleaning it?
If belly button cleaning were the norm, we wouldn’t be talking about it. But based on your reaction, and the curiosity that brought you here, there’s clearly a need to talk about navel hygiene. It wouldn’t sound so funny if it were something you’d already thought of.
What happens to the belly button during pregnancy?
Belly buttons commonly pop out during pregnancy. If you were an “innie,” you might become an “outie,” if only temporarily. Some belly buttons do change permanently, but this is less common. Your belly button changing doesn’t make it any less important to clean, though, as those little folds of skin love to trap bacteria and sweat no matter the navel.
And speaking of belly buttons popping out…if you have your navel pierced, you had better have taken it out by now! Pierced navels on pregnant women are bad news, because you’ll definitely damage the piercing and possibly suffer other unpleasant consequences along the way.
Your belly button is also much more sensitive while you’re pregnant, and you have to be more diligent in choosing what products you use to clean it. Sound good? Perfect! Here are your step-by-step instructions for how to clean your belly button.
1) Start with a couple cotton swabs at the ready. Did you think those things are for cleaning ears? Fixing make-up? Sure. But they’re also perfect for cleaning navels. With this little tip, you have everything you need to keep that button hole clean.
2) When it comes to cleaning products, while you’re pregnant you might want to steer clear of anything super aromatic. But it’s really up to you. Be sure that whatever you use—astringent to soapy water—is a known product that you’ve already used and liked.
If you do choose to use soap, be careful that you rinse it out thoroughly. Leaving soap scum in your belly button can actually throw off your button’s pH balance (bet you never thought you’d hear that term).
3) Insert the tip carefully into your belly button and sweep around the sides (this should be easier if you’re pregnant, because your navel will be getting bigger every day). Be sure not to rub too hard or dig too deep—once you’re further along, you can even disturb the baby!
4) Whatever you use to wash it, be sure you dry your navel thoroughly. Don’t rest at patting your belly off with a towel! Get right back in there with the a still-dry cotton swab and gently wipe it down.
If you aren’t careful to dry your navel, that damp and dark button hole will be an open stomping ground to the very bacteria—and smells, and infections—that you’re trying to avoid. Be equally careful when inserting the drying swab in your belly button, but all the same be sure to get every bit of moisture.
Making it a routine to regularly clean your belly button is as good an idea while you’re pregnant as after you’ve had the baby. Once you have the habit established, you can rest assured that a belly button infection won’t be what zaps your sex drive after delivering a baby.
Your button hole can get yeast infections, too, so be sure to watch out for any signs of infection, like odor and itching if you slack on the habit.
Belly buttons are funny little things, but at the same time a surprisingly intimate physical feature. I bet you can’t imagine your belly without it! It’s all the more important to keep your navel clean while you’re pregnant. And if you role model the behavior and keep the habit, your little boo will learn to do it, too!