Your bump & your baby

Everything you need to know about your baby bump during pregnancy and beyond!
When you're expecting you can't help but compare bumps with friends and you'll find that everyone will have their opinion to add in about how you're carrying and what this means. Sometimes it can be quite alarming if friends or family (or even a stranger in the street!) are 'critical' of how you're carrying your baby, and even off-the-cuff comments can leave you wondering if your bump is 'normal'. So, to give you the confidence you need to embrace your blossoming bump, we explain everything you need to know about your 'baby belly'.

When will I start to show?

While you'll start to notice other changes to your body shape early on in your pregnancy it's unlikely that your bump will start to become 'obvious' until you reach your second trimester. This is because, despite the speed at which your baby is growing, your uterus doesn't actually reach a size where it begins to protrude above your pubic bone until somewhere between 12 - 16 weeks. While your jeans may have been feeling tight around your tummy before, it's at this point that you'll start to notice a proper pregnancy bump developing.

When exactly you'll begin to show depends on a number of different factors so you may notice you develop a little bump slightly earlier or later than this. For example, first time pregnancies often don't show until later as the uterine muscles tend to be stronger than on women who have experienced previous pregnancies. Similarly, women who have strong abdominal muscles may not notice a bump developing until later as their core muscles are effectively holding the bump in. Curvy Mums-to-be may not start to obviously show until later while, conversely those who are particularly slim may notice their baby bump soon on.

Does size matter?

The size of your bump does matter, but not as much as you would think. Having a big bump doesn't necessarily mean you'll have a big baby and vice versa as a huge number of factors influence how big and how fast your bump will grow.
  • Height - Taller women have more height to carry the baby and so can sometimes appear as if they have smaller bumps than shorter ladies.

  • Weight - Slimmer women can sometimes appear as if they have bigger bumps as the contrast is all the more noticeable in proportion with the rest of their body.

  • Posture - If you slouch your bump may look bigger as your stomach muscles are more relaxed.

  • Fitness - Super-fit women with 'abs of steel' may appear as if they have smaller bumps as their stomach muscles hold in their baby bump more tightly.

  • Babies - Parents who have experienced other pregnancies may notice that they have a bigger bump the second time around as their uterine muscles stretch more to accommodate the growing foetus.

  • Fluid - The amount of amniotic fluid surrounding your baby will have an impact on how large or small your baby bump appears.

  • Twins - Mums-to-be who are expecting more than one baby tend to have bigger bumps simply because they have double the babies inside.

  • Size - Sometimes bigger bumps are just down to bigger babies and smaller bumps down to smaller babies.
Throughout your pregnancy your midwife will gauge your baby's development by measuring your fundal height. This is the distance in centimeters between the top of your uterus and your pubic bone and is roughly equivalent to the number of weeks pregnant you are. Your midwife will use this as a check to ensure your baby is developing as expected and should you be measuring small or large for your stage of pregnancy you may be referred for further investigation just to make sure everything is ok.

Is bump shape important?

The old wives tale goes that if you're carrying your bump high and wide (like a watermelon) then you're expecting a girl. Whereas 'football' shaped bumps (low and carried out front) mean that you'll have a boy. While some people swear by this old adage it's not exactly scientific fact and there is little evidence to suggest that the shape of your bump bears any relation to whether you're having a boy or girl.

While bump shape, just like bump size, varies greatly from woman to woman depending on their size and genetics it can, towards the end of your pregnancy, give you an idea of how your baby is lying. If your bump has a wide look to it, it may mean that your baby is lying side on whereas if, towards the end of your pregnancy, you are still carrying your bump high it can mean your baby has settled in a breech position.

Second and subsequent pregnancies are likely to sit lower and wider than first time babies as uterine muscles have already been stretched and will support baby in a slightly more relaxed way.

Your bump is likely to change shape as you progress through your pregnancy and your body expands to accommodate a growing baby, so you shouldn't let any alterations in the height or width of your bump cause you any concern.

What about after the birth?

Once your baby arrives don't be too surprised if your bump doesn't go down right away. It usually takes approximately 4 weeks for your uterus to shrink back down to its pre-pregnancy size. The excess fluid your body stored up during pregnancy will also be expelled during this time. However, exactly how long it will take for your tummy to regain its pre-pregnancy appearance will depend on how strong your stomach muscles are and how much baby weight you put on.

Are you embracing your bump or are you still learning to live with an extra bit out front? Whatever your situation why not find support, giggles and friendship with others in a similar situation on the AskBaby forums.

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I am 18 weeks pregnant with first baby. I am 17 and my bump is already quite big :) I love it, cant wait to meet my liccle baby :)
by Raych1994 19th Jan 2011, 9:23am
Espo, I am now 16 weeks pregnant with baby no.3 and I have had much more nausea and tiredness than my previous 2 and my bump is quite visible already. They do say when expecting second/ third babies, etc you show sooner and feel movements much sooner so I'm not overly worried. Oh and I also have found this pregnancy much harder than my previous ones...
by LisaJPattinson 17th Jan 2011, 3:29pm
I am only 10wks pregnant. Experienced heavier nausea this time, stomach noticeable earlier and have very tender breasts. Is this just due to it being baby number 3? Much tougher than any of my other pregnancies already!
by espo 5th Jan 2011, 9:24am
am 25 weeks pregnant on baby no. 4 just been to see midwife who tells me that womb is size for 30 weeeks starting to worry but have to wait 2 weeks for a scan any advice?
by lzzieno4 3rd Sep 2010, 10:36am
Hi , im 30 weeks pregnant , earlier on today i took abit of a fall , i fell into the post at the end of my bed , i had pains in my stomach afterwards for a good hour , then they went , i went to the toilet not long ago and i found that when i wiped it had a funny colour to it , should i be worried? any advice would be great!
by PaigeAlexandra 12th Aug 2010, 11:01am
I'm 27 weeks pregnant but everyone says my bump is small. This is my first pregnancy and it's a boy. My fren told me it's a boy that's y it's small but i'm worried that i'm not eating enuf for the baby. Despite being 27 weeks pregnant my appetite has not increased much and i have not put on much weight. Is this normal for the 1st pregnancy???
by jsabrina 11th Nov 2009, 9:18am
I'm only suppose to be 6 weeks and already showing, is this normal?
by xGemzx 11th May 2009, 11:44am
To weebarra - I think everything is alright, I wouldn't worry. But if you're concerned, talk to your midwife. :)

I'm 28 weeks pregnant, and as from 20 weeks everyone has been telling me my bump is huuuuuuuuuge!! But, my midwife said i'm right on track and I don't have a huge bump, it's just normal sized. I think other women just forget what pregnant women look like!! :P xx
by emdete 27th Apr 2009, 9:40am
my bump has changed shape over nite i am 22 weeks gone and its went to a jelly belly is everything allrite??
by weebarra 26th Nov 2008, 9:13am
im 24 weeks and every one keeps saying my bump is massive, its my first baby and im not sure what to think!!!!!!!!
by nellesapelle 3rd Nov 2008, 12:33pm
when is the right time to start toning your abdominal muscles back to shape?does using a corsette help?when can you start cutting down on your calories?
by sudarshana 3rd Nov 2008, 10:19am