When Do You Start Showing? Here's When Your Cute Baby Bump Might Make Its Debut

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When Do You Start Showing
Photo by Migs Reyes from Pexels

You’re pregnant, yay! From the minute you find out you’ve got a bun in the oven, you may want to shout it from the rooftops. Although if you’re having early pregnancy symptoms like morning sickness, you might feel like everyone can already tell you’re pregnant without having to say a word. Still, you may be waiting until you have a visibly growing belly before you share your big news with the world. Which begs the question: When do you start showing in pregnancy?

You may also want to keep the news a secret a little longer before a big pregnancy announcement, and that’s cool too. Either way, you want the scoop on your baby bump — so, we’re here to deliver (do you see what we did there?). Let’s take a look at the factors that can contribute to when your burgeoning belly will make its debut.

When do you start showing?

Spoiler alert: Pregnancy bumps come in all shapes and sizes, just like the women sporting them. Every pregnancy, like every body, is different. Remember that when we talk about timeframes throughout this piece. If you’re ever concerned that your pregnancy isn’t “tracking” as it should, reach out to your obstetrician or health care provider for insight and/or reassurance.

Having said that, many women do start to show within the same timeframe. If this is your first pregnancy, that’ll probably be sometime between 12 to 16 weeks — just as you’re leaving your first trimester behind and moving firmly into your second.

Interestingly, your “baby bump” at this point won’t be from your baby. They’re too tiny at that point to make a noticeable difference! Rather, the early incarnation of your bump will be due to your uterus. As it grows to make room for baby, it’ll push the loops of the bowel (which fill the abdomen) up and out.

How early can you start showing?

You may be in your first trimester and thinking you can already see a bit of a baby bump. Can you start showing at 5 weeks pregnant? What about 8? 10? Well, there are various factors that can affect whether or not you’ll show earlier in your pregnancy. They include:

Abdomen Length

If you’re shorter and/or have a short abdomen, you might notice your bump doesn’t mess around. It wants to be seen, and soon. But women who are taller with a longer abdomen have more space for their uterus to develop. So, for them, it can move upwards (as opposed to outwards), which has the effect of minimizing the appearance of a growing belly.

Carrying Multiples

While most women don’t show in their first trimester, those expecting twins or higher-order multiples might start seeing a bump as early as 6 weeks. This makes sense, right? Your uterus has to grow larger than it would in a non-multiples pregnancy in order to create space for additional babies.

Number of Pregnancies

Is this your first pregnancy? It might take a minute for what you’re feeling on the inside to reflect on the outside. If you’ve been pregnant before, though, you could start seeing a baby bump in your first trimester. Skin and abdominal muscle tone weaken with pregnancies, which can lead to the pregnant uterus protruding forward more.

Are there other factors that contribute to early “showing”?

There are a few other plausible explanations for an early baby bump. They include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Hormones: In early pregnancy, your body will experience a surge in hormones. And these hormones can cause fluid retention in your body, to the point that you may assume your bloated belly is a baby bump. To minimize bloating, you can try drinking lots of water and incorporating more fiber into your diet (pregnancy constipation is the worst!).
  • Diastasis recti: Another possible reason for an early bump could be diastasis recti. With this condition — which occurs largely, but not solely, in women who’ve been pregnant before — the mid-abdominal muscles separate and create a bulge. This bulge can give the appearance of an early baby bump.
  • Tilt of the uterus: As you’re probably starting to see, the uterus has a lot to do with your baby bump. That includes whether your uterus tilts toward your back or front. If it tilts toward your back, your bump may not be evident until your second trimester. If it tilts toward the front, you could have a first-trimester bump.

What should baby bump progression look like?

Again, it’s impossible to provide an exact picture of what your baby bump will look like week by week since every baby bump is different. But by 12 weeks pregnant, when you may start showing, your baby is roughly the size of a Samoa cookie. By the time you approach week 16, your baby is about the size of a cheeseburger — and probably getting harder to hide. At 24 weeks pregnant, you’ll be carrying a full-blown burrito around in your uterus, at which point your bump may very well be large and in charge.

When do you start feeling the baby move?

There really is a tiny person swimming inside of you, and feeling them kick or turn in your belly is confirmation (plus, one of the most magical experiences ever!). You may start to feel your baby move about 16 to 18 weeks into your pregnancy. Keep in mind that if this is your first baby, it may be a bit later. This usually happens during the second trimester, which is a pretty great reward compared to the first trimester months of morning sickness and diarrhea.

Your baby is doing what is known as quickening, which includes thumb sucking, kicking, and thrashing about. However, whether you feel anything is really based on the position of your placenta. If it’s facing front, it can make the movements harder to sense. When it comes to what it feels like, each woman’s experience is different. Some describe a sensation of butterflies or tiny waves inside of them. Other women express twitching or even what feels like the vibrato of hunger pangs.

What are good baby bump photoshoot ideas?

Now that you have a baby bump, it’s time to show it off. And what better way to reveal your beautiful belly than with a photoshoot? Your pregnancy is filled with moments you’ll want to remember, so here are several ideas to help you get the perfect shot.

  • Head for a field. If you want to go for the hometown girl/country music video vibe, find a field. Ideally, you should pick one with tall grass and go during sunset. Your background should mesh with your outfit, so pick a color that helps you stick out and coordinates well with the backdrop.
  • Go to a studio. You can never go wrong with high-contrast black and white photos. So, if it fits into your budget, go to a studio and be the maternity model you were always meant to be.
  • Show the bump. In these photos, the focus is solely on your stomach. You can still do your full-length maternity pics, but close-ups of your baby bump are always a winner.
  • Take off your clothes. If you’re comfortable and it’s your style, get naked. Nude maternity shoots are unique, so if you want to show off all your curves in a classy way, this is the photoshoot for you.

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