Watching your pregnant belly grow and change can be fun. However, many questions and concerns can also accompany changes in your abdomen during pregnancy.
Some pregnant bellies may look like basketballs, some may look like watermelons, and some may not appear at all. Some are carried high, others, low or even wide. Your pregnant belly is unique and will change throughout your pregnancy based on factors such as your height, weight, pre-existing conditions, muscle mass, trimester, baby size, and more.
There is no "normal" shape, size, or appearance of a pregnant belly. However, there is general information on how your pregnant belly will develop during your pregnancy.
The average length of a full-term pregnancy is 40 weeks, but this can vary. Your pregnant belly will change significantly during this time. While we are all different and there is no single chart for tracking the shape or size of a pregnant belly, it can be helpful to use the trimesters of pregnancy to assess changes in a pregnant belly.
Each pregnancy is divided into trimesters in which your body experiences unique physiological, hormonal, and physical changes as your baby grows.
Quarters are defined as:
- First trimester : From the first day of the last menstrual period to the end of the thirteenth week.
- Second trimester : from 14 weeks to the end of week 27.
- Third trimester : 28 weeks to the end of pregnancy
You may not know that you are pregnant for up to four weeks or more during the first trimester, so you may not notice any changes in your pregnant belly during this time.
The baby bump usually develops in the second trimester of pregnancy, so don't be alarmed if you don't see any of the hallmark signs of a pregnant belly during the first trimester.
Some people may notice a small lump today and a normal stomach the next day. Don't let this bother you. Due to hormonal fluctuations in the first trimester, you may experience bloating, gas, or constipation , which can create the illusion of a lump.
While your abdomen may not change much during the first trimester, you may notice other body changes to your skin and breasts.
Average weight gain during the first trimester is 1 to 4 1/2 pounds.
Your pregnant belly will start to "show" at the end of the first trimester and early in the second trimester. For most people, this occurs between 12 and 16 weeks, but each person is unique.
Certain factors can affect whether a pregnant belly appears sooner or later. Those who have had a previous pregnancy tend to have a noticeable pregnant belly earlier due to weakened muscles and ligaments. Less body weight and shorter stature can also lead to earlier viewing. People who are taller or have more developed abdominal muscles may appear later.
At first, your bump will only be visible when you're not dressed, so you and your partner will be the first to notice. By about week 20 it will be visible through your clothing and other people.
Around this time, usually 16-20 weeks, you can start wearing maternity clothes that fit your pregnant belly.
You will also notice some new changes to the skin on your pregnant belly during the second trimester. Some people develop stretch marks , while others develop a dark vertical line. All of this is normal and will differ from person to person. If you have any problems, check with your doctor.
Average weight gain in the second trimester is 1 to 2 pounds per week.
Most people will have an obvious pregnant belly during the third trimester, but the size and shape can vary greatly for each person.
Some people dress "tall" and others dress "short", which may depend on your height, muscle composition, and your child's position. You may also notice that your pregnant belly sinks further, sometimes overnight, as you near the end of your pregnancy.
"Wide" use may be because your baby is lying on his side, or his belly may appear wide due to his short stature or a smaller belly.
In the tales of old women, a "high" belly is said to indicate a girl, and a "low" belly indicates a child-boy. This is just a myth. In fact, the position of the abdomen in a pregnant woman has nothing to do with the sex of the child. It will be influenced by other factors such as your weight, height, previous pregnancies, and pre-existing medical conditions.
As you progress into the third trimester, you and your partner can now noticeably notice the thrusts, movements, and movements of your baby in the pregnant womb.
Your tummy will also be heavier in the third trimester. Up to 78% of pregnant women may experience persistent round ligament pain or other pelvic pain. If this happens to you, talk to your doctor. They can recommend various solutions, such as an abdominal support band.
Average weight gain in the third trimester is stable at 1 to 2 pounds per week.
You may be wondering if your pregnant belly "should" show up, if your belly button changes are normal, if your weight gain is typical or atypical, and much more. Know that each person is unique and that there is no set of rules or expectations about what your pregnant belly should or should not look like.
The most important thing is that your developing baby stays healthy, and your OB-GYN (OB-GYN) will help you monitor this. Here are some common concerns, but it's always a good idea to check with your OB / GYN if you are concerned during pregnancy.
You may notice changes in your belly button throughout your pregnancy. These changes are most likely not painful, but they can still bother you.
For some people, the belly button that used to be "innie" can "pop out." There is not much research on this phenomenon, but it is a common anecdotal change. This happens when the uterus enlarges and puts pressure on the abdominal wall. This is most likely to happen in week 26 or later in the third trimester.
If your belly button starts to hurt during pregnancy, see your doctor to rule out an umbilical hernia .
Stretch marks, also called pregnancy stretch marks, are a common and natural occurrence during pregnancy and affect up to 90% of people. However, some people may be concerned about the possibility of stretch marks.
Stretch marks are caused by changes in your connective tissue as your body size changes rapidly during pregnancy. They occur most often on the abdomen, as well as the chest, thighs, and other areas.
Risk factors for developing stretch marks include:
- Younger age
- Family history of stretch marks
- Being overweight before pregnancy
- Weight gain before delivery.
- Increase in size or weight at birth.
Keep in mind that stretch marks are completely normal during pregnancy due to the tremendous changes your body undergoes to help grow and support your baby. If you want to prevent stretch marks, research shows that gotu kola extract, hyaluronic acid , and daily massage can help, but check with your doctor first.
Moisturizing your belly during pregnancy can also help remove stretch marks if they appear. A randomized, placebo-controlled study in pregnant women showed that moisturizers containing rosehip oil, vitamin E, hydroxyprolysilane C, and triterpenes from Centella asiatica were more effective in reducing stretch marks.
Everyone will gain weight during pregnancy, but the exact amount will vary from person to person depending on factors such as body mass index (BMI) before pregnancy.
BMI is an imperfect way of conceptualizing a person's body fat composition, but it is currently what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) uses to determine expected weight gain during pregnancy.
According to the CDC, the expected weight gain from a single pregnancy is:
- BMI <18.5 (underweight) : 28-40 pounds
- BMI 18.5-24.9 (normal weight) : 25-35 lbs
- BMI 25.0-29.9 (overweight) : 15-25 pounds
- BMI> 30.0 (obese) : 11-20 pounds
At the end of the pregnancy, your baby will weigh 7 to 8 pounds. Other factors that affect your baby's lump include an increase in the size and weight of the uterus , as well as amniotic fluid and the placenta .
You may also notice that you are gaining weight, but the pregnant belly does not enlarge. Don't let that bother you. Although you gain weight during pregnancy, it not only spreads to your abdomen but also to other parts of your body.
These areas include:
- Chest : 1 to 3 pounds
- Placenta : 1 1/2 pound
- Amniotic fluid : 2 pounds
- Increased fluid retention : 2 to 3 pounds
- Increased blood volume : 3 to 4 pounds
- Increased fat stores : 6 to 8 pounds
Belly B versus Belly D
Not all pregnant bellies look the same, as does the silhouette of a lump. People with a D-shaped belly can be told that they look like they are carrying a basketball. The contour of the abdomen is smooth and round, like the letter "D".
Other people may have a B-shaped tummy, where the tummy is made up of two bumps located one on top of the other, under the chest. Those with a higher pre-pregnancy weight are more likely to have a B-shaped tummy. Positioning the baby with the head and feet outward can also help shape the "B".
Some people may be concerned about the dark line that appears along the abdomen during pregnancy. This dark line is called the black line and it is completely normal.
The black line is a vertical line about 1 centimeter (0.4 inches) wide. It usually goes from the navel to the pubis. It can appear in the first trimester as an early sign of pregnancy and then thickens and darkens over time.
Researchers speculate that the black line is caused by hormonal changes during pregnancy. In almost all cases, it lights up and disappears after birth.
It is very important to feel that the growth of your pregnant belly affects your body image and mental health throughout your pregnancy.
Women, in particular, have a socially constructed ideal of slimness. For some people, a pregnant belly is not perceived as a joyous sign of a child's development, but rather as an obstacle to a good body image.
A qualitative study of the first pregnancy has shown that some people are unhappy with their bodies early in pregnancy and feel that their bodies are "strange." Another qualitative study found that factors that contribute to a positive body image during pregnancy include:
- Focusing on the functionality of the abdomen and body of the pregnant woman
- Affiliate support, including positive feedback on a pregnant woman's body
- Open conversations about weight and body image in prenatal care
Get the word of drug information
For some, pregnancy is a time of joy, while for others it is a time of emotional turmoil and stress. For many, this is an emotional roller coaster of both.
Since the belly is the most obvious manifestation of your pregnancy, it's easy to focus your questions, anxiety, and stress on your appearance.
It is important to know that no pregnant belly is the same. However, understanding trimesters and explanations for common problems like navel changes or stretch marks can help ease your worries.