Finding out you’re pregnant might fill you with excitement and anticipation. As soon as you get your positive pregnancy test you may be anxious to see the first visible sign of your future little one: your baby bump. Often you’ll feel pregnant before you look pregnant, leaving you standing in front of the mirror wondering, “When will my baby bump start to show?”
Many moms look forward to showing off their baby bump once they’ve announced their pregnancy. It’s a great feeling when your bump finally “pops” and you’re carrying around a visual reminder of your growing baby. The timing of this milestone can vary greatly depending on your previous pregnancies or the number of babies you’re carrying.
When Do You Start Showing With Your First Pregnancy?
Your first pregnancy is typically when it takes the longest to start showing. This is the first time your body has been through pregnancy changes, and every adjustment is new. Most first-time moms will begin noticing a protruding baby bump in their second trimester.
By 20 weeks of pregnancy, your uterus is no longer hidden down in your pelvis. It’s likely that your uterus reaches your belly button now and is pushing against your abdominal wall creating a visible baby bump.
When Do You Start Showing With Your Second Pregnancy?
One pregnant woman can experience different signs of pregnancy with each baby she carries—including her baby bump progression. Normally you start showing earlier with your second baby, possibly in the first trimester of pregnancy.
Your abdominal muscles have been through this familiar stretch before and are likely to have stayed more relaxed than they were prior to your first pregnancy. This is especially true if you got pregnant again quickly after your first baby was born.
When Do You Start Showing with a Twin Pregnancy?
If you’re pregnant with twins you’ll probably start showing before moms who are pregnant with a single baby of the same gestational age. Women who are pregnant with multiples are commonly seeing their baby bump form in their first trimester.
Two babies take up more space than one and your body will accommodate them as they grow. Your uterus will expand more quickly, which might make you look further along in your pregnancy than you actually are.
Why Is Your Baby Bump Bigger or Smaller than You Expected?
All pregnant women start to show at different times, and typically the shape of your baby bump alone isn’t a reason to worry. If you do have questions about your health or your baby’s size, make an appointment with your OB-GYN to address your concerns.
No two moms or pregnancies are exactly alike, but here are some common factors that influence when you’ll see a change in the size of your pregnant belly.
Bloating is an early pregnancy symptom that may enhance the look of your baby bump. Thanks to your hormones, bloating, gas, and constipation can contribute to your abdomen looking and feeling swollen. Although bloating can give the impression of a baby bump, the roundness of your belly can fluctuate throughout the day and lack the desired appearance you’re waiting for.
The severity of your morning sickness during pregnancy can affect the size of your belly. Many pregnant women experience frequent morning sickness and food aversions as early signs of pregnancy, leading them to lose weight. Thankfully for most, the intensity of nausea and vomiting lessens in the second trimester—making your baby bump more noticeable with proper weight gain.
Your body type plays a large role in when you’ll start noticing your bump. If you tended to carry weight in your midsection pre-pregnancy, your baby bump might not be as obvious until your third trimester. On the other hand, someone with a slender waistline may start showing early on as they start to gain weight in pregnancy. Your height and the length of your torso determine whether your belly shape is more round or elongated.
Abdominal muscle strength before becoming pregnant has an impact on how easily you can see your baby bump. Women who exercise regularly might start showing later if their core is strong enough to resist being pushed out by their growing uterus. Some moms may have a condition called diastasis recti after a previous pregnancy. This is when the muscles of your abdomen have separated, leaving room for your bump to be more pronounced.
The tilt of your uterus will make a difference in how soon you can spot your bump. A retroverted uterus is tilted towards your back, and this uterine position will delay seeing your baby’s growth in the front of your body. You could be late in your second trimester or even into your third trimester before a predominant baby bump appears. An anteverted uterus tilts towards your abdomen and would allow your bump to pop out earlier in your pregnancy.
A miscalculated due date could be the cause of a baby bump that seems to be too large or too small. Most of the time your due date is determined from the first day of your last menstrual cycle, but if you have irregular periods it can be hard to pinpoint the exact date. As you get further along an ultrasound will be able to gather the measurements of your baby, placenta, and uterus to come up with a more appropriate due date—which might be weeks earlier or later than you first thought!
Tips for Feeling Confident During Every Stage of Pregnancy
As an expectant mom, you have enough on your mind without the concern of how your bump looks. Worrying about the appearance of your pregnant belly shouldn’t diminish your confidence. Whether your baby bump is the size of a lemon or a watermelon, be proud of the hard work your body is doing!
Here are our recommendations to help you feel your best throughout your pregnancy journey.
Eat well and drink plenty of water
Looking good starts when you feel good. Make hydration a high priority in your daily routine. Your body needs more water to keep up with the physical demands of pregnancy. When you’re lacking water you may get a headache and feel fatigued. Eating small meals throughout the day will help keep your energy up without feeling bloated.
Moving your body daily during pregnancy has many benefits, like reducing back pain and helping your baby move into the proper position for labor. Exercise also gives you a boost of endorphins that positively impacts your mood if you’ve been feeling down about your changing body. Activities like a pregnancy workout routine or taking your dog for a walk are great ways to get your heart pumping and clear your mind.
Stay away from the scale
Unless your doctor has instructed you otherwise, you don’t need to check your weight at home. Keeping tabs on day-to-day weight gain can cause unnecessary stress for some pregnant women. Stepping up on the scale at each prenatal appointment with your healthcare provider is enough to monitor your weight throughout your pregnancy.
Dress the part
Maternity clothes are comfortable and flattering for pregnant bellies of all shapes and sizes. Even if your baby bump hasn’t completely popped out yet, your pre-pregnancy clothes might start to feel more restricting than they used to. You can shop a wide variety of maternity clothes in most clothing stores and online. Ask friends or family members if you can borrow some of the clothes they wore during their pregnancies or check your local thrift stores for gently used items if you’re on a tight budget. Your confidence is sure to get a boost when you start wearing clothes that are made to fit your changing body and accentuate your bump.
Step up your self-care
Rest and relaxation are important parts of taking care of yourself during pregnancy. Fitting in an extra nap during the day or curling up in your favorite chair with a good book can help you hit the reset button on a hard day. Sometimes a little extra pampering can go a long way in getting you through a rough stage of pregnancy. Have your hair or makeup done professionally “just because” or schedule a prenatal massage to ease any tension you’re holding on to.
Document your baby bump progression
Sometimes it’s difficult to see a difference in your bump when you’re looking at it everyday. Track your pregnancy week by week by taking a picture of your belly. This kind of keepsake is a great reminder of how beautifully your baby’s growth has changed your body. Being able to look back on how far you’ve come will keep the excitement alive for where you’re headed next.
When your baby bump starts to show it will be as unique to you and the rest of your pregnancy journey, and eventually your birthing experience. If your belly isn’t bumping along the way that you’d hoped it would, remember that the health of your growing baby is of the most importance and the appearance of your baby bump shouldn’t stop you from enjoying your pregnancy.
For more pregnancy insight and tips on everything baby related, you can visit the Nurture& Journal. As you prepare for your baby’s arrival, check out our online store to find premium products made for parents, by parents.