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When Do You Start Showing in Pregnancy?

Young pregnant woman at home, closeup

by Kristen v.H. Middleton

Former School Teacher & Administrator

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Every woman is different when she begins showing in pregnancy. I remember clearly the day I finally saw my beloved baby bump. It was a Monday and I was at work. I saw myself in the bathroom mirror and smiled broadly at my suddenly noticeable bump. Glowing, I rubbed my little tummy as I checked out my new, different-looking profile in the mirror. My office friends had noticed that morning as well and had complimented me and my little bump. Naturally, I took a selfie. I was so excited to see that I was finally showing. I couldn’t stop smiling all day! When Do Moms Start Showing in Pregnancy? First-time mothers usually begin to show between 12 and 16 weeks… Read More

Every woman is different when she begins showing in pregnancy. I remember clearly the day I finally saw my beloved baby bump. It was a Monday and I was at work. I saw myself in the bathroom mirror and smiled broadly at my suddenly noticeable bump. Glowing, I rubbed my little tummy as I checked out my new, different-looking profile in the mirror. My office friends had noticed that morning as well and had complimented me and my little bump. Naturally, I took a selfie. I was so excited to see that I was finally showing. I couldn’t stop smiling all day!

When Do Moms Start Showing in Pregnancy?

First-time mothers usually begin to show between 12 and 16 weeks or even later. Since first-time mothers haven’t stretched their uterine and abdominal muscles before, the process of a bump showing up can sometimes take longer. In general, women with less weight show faster than women with more weight. For moms who have already given birth, their baby bump usually develops more quickly because the muscles have already been stretched.

Your Changing Body

So what is happening to our midsection as our baby bump develops? The uterus begins to expand above the pubic bone by about 12 weeks. Your body begins to undergo changes in the abdomen and urinary system, among other things. For people with lower weight and a smaller midsection, they might start showing close to 12 weeks, while mamas with more weight might not show much of a bump until 16 weeks or later.

The abdominal wall and ligaments that support the uterus begin to stretch as the baby grows inside you. The abdomen starts expansion during the second trimester, and by the end of it, the top of the uterus nears the rib cage. As the uterus expands, it puts pressure on the bladder, urethra, and pelvic floor muscles. There is a realignment of the spinal curvature to maintain balance.

When your baby is at 12 weeks gestation, it is the size of a lemon. When they are close to their due date, your baby can be as big as a watermelon! All of these changes encourage the continued development of your bump.

Other Reasons For Your Baby Bump

Sometimes factors other than baby’s growth and your body’s muscular-skeletal system changing can account for your bump. Gas, bloating, and constipation can add to your midsection, as an increase in hormones may cause your body to retain fluid. Also, if you are pregnant with twins or multiple babies, you may start showing your bump earlier.

Finally, diastasis recti can make your bump more pronounced earlier on if you’ve had children in the past. Diastasis recti is when the mid-abdominal muscles separate during pregnancy and stay separated, creating a bulging tummy effect.

What If I’m Not Showing Yet?

If you’re not showing as quickly as you might like, be patient. Every woman’s journey in pregnancy is different, and the way your body is no exception. Whereas one mama might show her bump quickly, another mama might take much longer. A retroverted uterus (the uterus is tipped back) might mean your baby bump shows later. An anteverted uterus (the uterus is tipped forward) might mean your baby bump will appear earlier in your pregnancy.

If you’re still concerned about your baby bump not showing when your second trimester arrives, ask your doctor for an ultrasound and assessment, expressing your concerns. Most gynecologists start to assess whether the baby is measuring too small only when the second and third trimester arrives.

Loving Your Body As It Transforms

As with all women, our bodies are different and beautiful in unique ways. Pregnancy can be an excellent time to give yourself and your body lots of extra love and attention. Practice saying kind and loving mantras and words to your body, the same as you do to your precious baby growing inside.

After you rub your belly and say good morning to your little bun in the oven, give yourself a hug, too. When you brush your hair, take a moment to tell yourself what a wonderful mom you are going to be. Try to eat foods that nourish and strengthen you and your baby. Treat yourself to some maternity clothes that you feel good wearing.

To the degree that feels comfortable and is recommended by your health care practitioner, keep exercising! During both of my pregnancies, I found walking and prenatal yoga to be joyful ways to connect with both my changing body and my precious babies as they grew inside me. Plus, exercise releases endorphins—those feel-good hormones that boost your confidence and happiness! No matter when you begin showing in pregnancy, enjoy watching your body change and grow. Before you know it, you’ll have that precious baby in your arms!