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 questions: 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:
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.
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.