Some expectant moms are chomping at the bit to start growing a bump. They’re so excited about their news that they want to show it on the outside! Others would rather keep it quiet until the second trimester when the chance of loss is lower. In either case, pregnant women want to know, “when do you start showing in pregnancy?”
In this post we’ll cover:
- When do you start showing in pregnancy?
- Why women show at different times
- What surprising factors affect when you start showing
When Do You Start Showing?
Many moms-to-be want to know, “when do you start showing?” But there is no definitive answer.
Many mamas notice changes in their own bodies before anyone else does. Some feel their clothing getting too small (or just uncomfortable) by the time they hit 8 weeks. Others can wear their regular clothes until closer to 6 months!
In general, other people may not notice your growing belly until at least 12 weeks. This is because the uterus doesn’t pop out of the pelvis until about this time. Doctors and midwives start measuring the fundal height at around 12 weeks as well, since it can finally be felt above the pelvic bone.
How early a pregnant woman shows is sometimes just a matter of chance, but there are some things that can affect when she starts to show:
Things That Affect When Pregnant Women Start Showing
Because first-time moms don’t have the same muscle memory as experienced moms, they often show later. The uterus is a muscle like any other, and if you haven’t used it before (to grow a baby), it will be slower to expand.
During subsequent pregnancies, the uterus expands more quickly, kind of like a balloon being blown up for the second time—since it’s already been stretched, it does so more easily the second time around.
Anecdotally, many moms agree that they started showing much sooner the second time around.
This mama is 8 months pregnant. She’s carrying one baby, and it’s her first pregnancy.
This mama is only 12 weeks pregnant, but this is her third pregnancy.
When do you start showing with twins? The answer is generally earlier than a mama carrying one baby!
Though it’s not possible to know an exact date or time during pregnancy when you’ll start showing, twin pregnancies often cause a larger than average uterus size for gestational age. Because two babies usually take up more space than one, a twin pregnancy could be a reason that the belly “pops” sooner than expected.
However, fundal height is a more accurate gauge of a potential twin pregnancy than the way your belly looks. Ultimately, showing early isn’t a sign of a twin pregnancy, but if you already know you have twins on the way, you may also notice your belly shows earlier.
This mama is 8 months pregnant with twins!
Shape/position of the uterus
The uterus is ideally in an anteverted position—in a right angle from the vagina, pointing toward the belly button. However, the uterus isn’t in a fixed position and can move from day to day (and even hour to hour!). Some uteruses do stay put in a different position, but it may be tipped upward slightly or it may go so far as to be folded over and pointing toward the tailbone or lower back (retroverted).
There’s nothing inherently wrong with these other uterine positions and it’s generally nothing to worry about. (Though some women attribute infertility or pain during sex to uterine position.) But it can affect when you start to show:
- An anteverted (forward pointing uterus) is more likely to pop out of the abdomen sooner.
- A retroverted uterus (one that points backward) is more likely to grow up into the abdomen before popping out. Because of this, it could take longer for a woman with this uterine position to start showing.
Carrying high or low is often thought of as a gender predictor, but it’s more a sign of your body type.
Women with small frames may show earlier than larger women. And women who are carrying a little extra weight before pregnancy may not show as soon as women who have very little body fat.
When do you start showing if you have a longer torso? Tall women with long torsos generally have more room for the uterus to grow “up” before growing “out.” Similarly, if you have a short torso the uterus may begin growing “out” sooner due to lack of space.
Women with very defined abdominal muscles may show later. This is because their abdominal muscles are very strong, and it takes longer for baby to “break through.” Women with weaker abdominal muscles may show earlier because the abs aren’t as tight, allowing the body to stretch more easily.
This mama is a personal trainer. As mentioned above, tight ab muscles can mean you start to show later in pregnancy. Believe it or not, she says she’s in her 8th month of pregnancy. 😬
Younger women may show later because of more muscle definition, though this is obviously not hard-and-fast. There are many lifestyle factors that affect this, and many women who are on the older side (as far as fertility goes) have strong ab muscles. There are plenty of younger mothers who have weaker ab muscles as well.
This mama, considered advanced maternal age, is just about 8 months pregnant.
During pregnancy, the abdominal muscles separate to allow the uterus to grow out of the abdomen. Diastasis recti is a condition where the two bands of muscles that run on either side of the belly button don’t completely close after a pregnancy.
So when do you start showing if you’ve been diagnosed with diastasis recti before? Women with this condition will show earlier due to the lack of support in the abdominal area.
This mama is only 10 weeks pregnant, but was diagnosed with diastasis recti after a previous pregnancy.
Gastrointestinal symptoms of early pregnancy, like gas, bloating, and constipation can cause you to look pregnant, even if you aren’t far enough along to really be showing that growing baby.
This mama is just 8 weeks pregnant.
How did your mom or sisters show during their pregnancies? Every woman is different and will carry differently. But family members are likely to carry in a similar way, thanks to shared DNA. Don’t bank on it, but if your mom and sister both showed early, you may as well.
When do you start showing if you have a history of abdominal surgeries? Prior surgery, including c-sections, can cause the muscles to be weaker in your midsection. This may cause you to show sooner than expected.
Incorrect due date
This is less likely to be the case, since many women know their cycles well (even if the pregnancy was a surprise!) and can estimate the due date accurately from that information. But it’s possible that, if you have wonky cycles or confused implantation bleeding for a period, you could have your dates wrong.
If this is the case, the fundal height (and perhaps an ultrasound) should help determine the right due date.
Although most women will wonder when do you start showing during pregnancy, the health of your baby, in most cases, does not have any bearing on the size of your baby bump.
Some women don’t really start showing until they are almost halfway through their pregnancies. Likewise, showing early doesn’t always mean you’re going to have a big baby!
At 12 weeks your baby is only about the size of a lime, so a bigger bump is usually just a combination of the above factors. Your healthcare provider will monitor the size of your belly and will address any concerns you have about baby’s growth.
How About You?
When do you start showing when you’re pregnant? Was it the same with all of your pregnancies?