Babies are born with an opening in the abdominal wall through which the umbilical-cord vessels connect with the placenta. When the cord is cut, the stump shrivels up. Sometimes the stump bulges out – other times it stays flat or inverts. Whether it’s an “outie” or an “innie” depends on the individual way a stump heals, not the way it’s cut. Most outies flatten with time.
Two large bands of muscle grow down the center of baby’s abdomen and encircle the navel. Sometimes there is an opening between these muscles, and when baby cries or strains the whole navel protrudes, the intestines poke through beneath the skin, and you feel a squishy bulge of intestines around the navel. This is called an umbilical hernia . It may be the size of a golf ball or a fingertip. As the muscles grow, the opening in and around the navel seals, and the hernia disappears. Umbilical hernias are particularly common in African American babies. They do not hurt or harm baby. Above all, don’t tape over the hernia. This doesn’t speed the healing and may lead to infection. Nearly all heal with only the treatment of time, usually by the first birthday.