When Do You Start Showing Pregnancy?

When you find out that you are pregnant, it is natural to be excited about getting to wear maternity clothes and show off your cute bump! You may wonder "when do you start showing pregnancy". For every woman and every individual pregnancy, the answer to this question can vary. It depends on the number of pregnancies you've had and your body type. If this is a first pregnancy, you may show later; and if this is a second or third pregnancy, you may start showing earlier. While most pregnancies don't show until the second trimester, the baby factory inside is in full production and time will show what exactly is going on inside.

When Do You Start Showing Pregnancy?

The answer to the question actually depends on the growth of the uterus. Most women notice the "baby bump" between 12 and 16 weeks of pregnancy. This is because the 12-week uterus has stretched up and above the bones in the pelvis. Less than 12 weeks or in the first trimester, the uterus is still hidden inside the pubic bone.

While the fact that the uterus stays low until the second trimester, there is no exact time when the abdomen will start showing pregnancy. It depends on your body type and how many pregnancies you have had. There are some women who do start showing before 12 weeks, but this is usually bloating and swelling in the belly. This often happens to women in their second or third pregnancies because the lower abdominal muscles are already stretched from previous pregnancies and tend to relax sooner.

Women who are in their first pregnancy usually need more time for the lower abdominal muscles to stretch and relax. However, you may notice your pants starting to get tighter even just after the pregnancy test is positive.

What If You Show Pregnancy Early or Late?

Once you have the answer to "when do you start showing pregnancy", you may wonder if it is normal to start showing early in the pregnancy or later in the pregnancy. That answer is a little trickier and definitely according to how your body reacts to pregnancy. Here are a few reasons for showing earlier or later.

Showing in Early Pregnancy

If you start showing early, prior to the 12th week of pregnancy, you may wonder if you are having a large baby or even twins. While this is entirely possible, the usual causes of early showing include:

  • ConstipationYour body slows down the digestive process during pregnancy in order for you to absorb the most nutrients from your food to nourish your body and your baby. This can also be caused by the iron in your prenatal vitamins.
  • BloatingIn early pregnancy, your body tends to retain fluids in the abdominal tissue, just like prior to your monthly period.
  • GasGas can build up due to the slowing of the bowels in pregnancy and cause the abdomen to look larger.
  • Anteverted Uterus–This is a condition where the uterus is tipped towards the front of the body and may cause you to show earlier in pregnancy.

It is rarer, but on occasion, a large belly in the first trimester could mean you are having more than one baby. The only confirmation of this is an ultrasound examination.

Showing Later in Pregnancy

When you notice that it is later into your second trimester and you aren't showing yet, this is most often nothing to worry about. Doctors say that it is most likely just the positioning of the uterus and the way the baby lies. There is a condition called "retroverted uterus", meaning your uterus tips toward your back and your baby may lie more towards your back area, instead of in the front.

The biggest concern for mothers and their doctors is if the baby is small in size for dates. This doesn't happen very often and can easily be assessed with uterine measurements and ultrasounds in the second trimester. Doctors will check your due dates along with the measurements on ultrasound. It is very possible that your pregnancy isn't as far along as you might have thought.

Experiences of Other Moms

I was only four-week pregnant when I started to show. I only weighed around 111 pounds, so my belly popped out really early. The doctor said it was mostly bloating. I felt so fat right away and couldn't hold my stomach in or wear my regular jeans after six weeks. I had to go out and buy maternity clothes right away. (Janet, 37 weeks pregnant)

During my first pregnancy, I didn't show until around 16 weeks. During my second pregnancy, I was only a week late and my belly was huge. This was why I did a pregnancy test early on and found out I was pregnant with twins. I was showing at only 5 weeks pregnant. (Mindy, 18 weeks pregnant with twins)

I was worried about my baby being small because I didn't notice a bump at all until I was 20 weeks pregnant. I could wear all my normal clothes. The doctor said it was because my uterus was flipped towards my back. He checked on the baby and everything looks fine and the baby measures just right for my dates. (Alisa, 30 weeks pregnant)

I am normally a size 1 and weigh around 108 pounds. I had to start buying maternity clothes around 8 weeks because nothing fit right anymore. Thank goodness it was only my pants and I actually was able to wear regular shirts until I was six months pregnant. People actually didn't even know I was pregnant until then. It was just my pants felt a little tighter after the 8th week. (Annie, mom of 6-week old daughter)

I had really bad morning sickness the first 8 weeks so I lost almost 20 pounds in the beginning of my pregnancy. I had a small bump around 18 weeks and started showing a full bump around 24 weeks. I had asked my mom "when do you start showing pregnancy" and she told me around 3 months. I guess I was one of the lucky ones. (Christie, 30-weeks pregnant)

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