If you are pregnant or are planning a pregnancy, you will probably be asking: when do you start showing in pregnancy? The reasons for your curiosity may be different: you might want to start looking for maternity clothes, or maybe you want to keep your pregnancy a secret for some time.
The answer is that there is no definite timeframe in which your bump will appear. The only thing you could do is approximately determine that period, and even then it might be imprecise. And to roughly outline the time period before you start showing in pregnancy, you need to consider a number of factors.
Being a first-time mom
With first-time mothers, the development of a baby bump takes between 12 – 16 weeks in general. On the other hand, those women who are expecting their second baby start showing sooner because their uterus and the abdominal muscles are stretched from the previous pregnancies. Typically, second-time moms start showing around a month earlier than first-time mothers, meaning that the bump develops in about 8 weeks.
Thinner women generally show earlier (at around 12 – 15 weeks): this is because the bump will be much more obvious with smaller frames. With defined abdominal muscles, showing earlier is also a tendency. Women carrying more weight may not develop their bump until the second trimester into the pregnancy.
Age plays an important role in showing as well. Generally, younger women start showing later into their pregnancies due to the tightness and strength of their stomach muscles, which do not allow the bump to easily reveal itself.
This factor directly relates to the tightness of the mother’s abdominal muscles. The logic here is the same as with the age: the tighter the muscles, the later you will start showing in pregnancy. Apart from the age, exercising might also be able to allow you to postpone starting showing in pregnancy. If you don’t want to start showing early, make sure to keep those abdominal muscles in tone.
The showing period of your female relatives
You could ask your mom to find out the time period before the started showing in pregnancy. This advice applies not only to moms: you can ask any of your female relatives. More often than not, you will start showing around the same as them. However, you shouldn’t take this as a rule because there are other factors affecting starting showing in pregnancy.
If you are expecting twins or even bigger multiples, you will definitely start showing much earlier than you would if you were expecting one baby. After all, your uterus needs to expand more to accommodate multiple babies!
The position of the uterus
The positioning of your uterus is another major factor that might impact the time before you start showing in pregnancy.
If you have a retroverted uterus, i.e. a uterus that is tilted towards your back, you will start showing later. Conversely, an anteverted uterus, i.e. a uterus that is tilted towards your stomach, might lead to earlier showing in pregnancy.
Constipation and bloating
Bloating and constipation are pretty common with pregnancy. Moreover, it is often accompanied by gas because bloating results in a buildup of fluid or gas. This, in its turn, causes a distended abdomen.
Early bloating during pregnancy is primarily caused by the increase of hormone levels and progesterone in particular. Progesterone causes the smooth muscles in the gastrointestinal tract to relax, which slows down digestion. This can cause bloating and constipation, although on the other hand, slow digestive processes ensure that the fetus receives all the necessary nutrients from the food you eat.
“Early” showing might also be affected by wrong dating of your pregnancy. You might be thinking that you are just beginning to go through pregnancy, or you may be unaware of it at all. In case you have miscalculations in your dates, order an ultrasound examination to recheck the size of your uterus and gestation date.
In terms of showing, what you wear also significantly impacts when your bump becomes distinguishable for others. With tighter clothing, your bump is much more likely to reveal itself, while looser clothing will cover it. If you don’t want to alert others that you are pregnant, wear looser attire. Also keep in mind that wearing maternity clothing will immediately inform everyone that you are pregnant, so be careful with that!
The size of the baby is also important in the showing time. Obviously, with a smaller baby, you will start showing later than with a bigger baby. Apart from that, the amount of amniotic fluid around the fetus can also make a big difference.
Should you worry if you start showing not as excepted?
You might also be wondering: is it okay if you start showing early/late during pregnancy? The answer is that neither of them is a cause of alarm. If you start showing early, do not panic, it might be the factors that we mentioned coming into play. If you are particularly worried, you could ask for an ultrasound to discover any issues.
And on the other hand, don’t worry if you aren’t showing early. Maybe you are large-frame, and it simply isn’t the time for you to start showing. Overweight women might start showing well into their second trimester, but if you are worried, you could always go for an ultrasound.
You can also read our expert review of 10 best pregnancy books
What showing at different times means?
While showing either late or early isn’t a sign of complications necessarily, timing might be able to help you discover issues.
You will generally start showing in the first trimester if you are thin, bloating, gain weight, have weak abdominal muscles, or go through your second pregnancy.
Women start showing during the second trimester most commonly. Bloating might be a reason for showing in the second trimester, but generally, showing in this time period means that your baby is doing just fine.
As for the third trimester, things might be a little bit more difficult. Showing in the third trimester is rather unusual, but it doesn’t mean that you have complications. Remember about those factors that impact showing early. Besides, you could always go for an ultrasound to make sure that everything is alright.