“When do you start showing in pregnancy?” is a common question newly pregnant moms have. And every woman is different! I clearly remember 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 and checked out my new, different-looking profile in the mirror. My office friends had also noticed that morning and complimented me and my baby bump. Naturally, I took a selfie. I was so excited to see I was finally showing. I couldn’t stop smiling all day!
When Do You Start Showing In Pregnancy?
First-time pregnant mothers usually begin to show between 12 and 16 weeks or 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. Generally, 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.4
Your Changing Body
So, what is happening to our midsection as our baby bump develops? The uterus starts to expand above the pubic bone around 12 weeks.12 Your body begins to undergo changes in the abdomen and urinary system, among other things.13 People with lower weight and a smaller midsection might start showing close to 12 weeks, while mamas with more weight might not show much of a bump until 16 weeks or later.4
The abdominal wall and ligaments that support the uterus stretch as the baby grows inside you.14,15 The abdomen starts expansion during the second trimester, and by the end of it, the top of the uterus nears the rib cage.16 As the uterus expands, it puts pressure on the bladder, urethra, and pelvic floor muscles, and there is a realignment of the spinal curvature to maintain balance.17
When you’re about seven or eight weeks pregnant, your womb is the size of a lemon.10 When you are close to your due date, your baby can be as big as a watermelon!11 All these changes encourage the continued development of your baby bump.
Other Reasons for Your Baby Bump
Sometimes, factors other than the baby’s growth and your body’s musculoskeletal 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.7,8 Also, if you are pregnant with twins or multiple babies, you may show your bump earlier.9
Finally, diastasis recti can make your bump more pronounced earlier if you’ve had children before. Diastasis recti is when the mid-abdominal muscles separate during pregnancy and stay separated, creating a bulging tummy effect.6
What If I’m Not Showing Yet?
Be patient if you’re not showing as quickly as you might like. Every woman’s journey in pregnancy is different, and the way your body shows is no exception. While one mama may show her bump quickly, another may 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.1,2,3
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. Many gynecologists start to assess whether the baby measures too tiny 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 much extra love and attention. Practice saying pregnancy affirmations (kind and loving mantras) to your body 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, hug yourself, too. When you brush your hair, take a moment to tell yourself what a wonderful mom you will be. Try to eat foods that nourish and strengthen you and your baby. Treat yourself to some maternity clothes you feel good wearing.
To the degree that feels comfortable and is recommended by your health care practitioner, keep exercising during pregnancy! During both of my pregnancies, I found walking and prenatal yoga to be joyful ways to connect with 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!5 No matter when you start showing in pregnancy, enjoy watching your body change and grow throughout pregnancy. Before you know it, you’ll have that precious baby in your arms!