One of the most frequent questions we receive from first-time moms is when will they start to show a pregnant belly. Of course, every woman is different and, therefore, some mothers will start showing as early as 12 weeks (especially first-time moms), while others may show even sooner (women who had a previous pregnancy usually have the muscles in their uterus and abdomen stretched). But for others, it may be earlier or later than this.
Take a look at the picture that shows where your uterus is at different stages. In the early days of pregnancy, your uterus is the shape of a pear. Over the first 12 weeks, it gradually becomes more rounded until it is about the size of a grapefruit. This is when your bump may begin to form.
At 16 weeks of pregnancy, your uterus will be stretching to fit your growing baby. This is when your bump may really begin to show. However, there are all sorts of factors that may influence when you can start shopping for maternity clothes.
Some women pregnant with their first babies may not show until 20 weeks, a time when the top of the uterus is finally at the level of the belly button.
Several factors may influence when you start to look pregnant:
- Older moms often start showing earlier than young moms. This is because younger women are more likely to have tighter abdominal muscles.
- Body size. Heavier women may not show their pregnancy as clearly as skinny women. Taller women tend to show later.
- Depth of the pelvis (the deeper the pelvis, the later one will show). If you’re showing later than expected, you may have a retroverted uterus. This means that your uterus tilts more towards the back than the front. About 15 per cent of women have a retroverted uterus. This won’t affect how your baby grows.
- Baby size. If you are carrying a smaller baby, you might not show as soon as if you are carrying a larger baby. The amount of amniotic fluid you are carrying around your baby can also make a difference.
- Carrying multiples. If you are carrying more than one baby, you will likely show much sooner.
If there’s any reason for concern about the size of your bump, your obstetrician or midwife will arrange for an ultrasound scan to make sure you have been given the right due date.
While this article describes the changes you may experience in your belly, there are other early signs of pregnancy that may be even more apparent. Click here to find out what those signs are. For example, from around nine weeks, you may find that your clothes feel tighter and that your waist is getting thicker. This is not because of the baby per se but more likely to be general congestion as your circulation is more sluggish now. And by twelve weeks your breasts will be bigger.