When Will My Pregnancy Start to Show?

Women admiring friends pregnant belly.
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When you find out you are pregnant, one of the questions at the top of your mind is likely to be when your pregnancy will start showing. You may be excited to be pregnant and look forward to the changes it makes in your body. Or, you may be apprehensive about gaining weight and having a pregnant shape. Either way, you'll want to know when to anticipate this milestone of pregnancy.

Noticing When Your Pregnancy Is Showing

When you will look pregnant will vary for each woman and each pregnancy she may have.

You may notice changes in your abdomen as early as the end of the first trimester. Most commonly, women will have a baby bump appearing from weeks 12 to 16 in the second trimester. For second and subsequent pregnancies, women often start showing sooner than during the first pregnancy. There are also some women do not look noticeably pregnant until they are into their third trimester.

Early in pregnancy, you may be more vigilant in looking for changes. You may think you look pregnant more at the end of the day when you've eaten dinner and your muscles are more relaxed. You may have bloating or constipation that you didn't have before pregnancy that contributes to this. However, your uterus won't have expanded above your pelvis enough to be the cause of the bump until the second trimester.

Changes in the first trimester often do not mean you need maternity clothes just yet. Depending on what you have in your wardrobe, you may choose clothes you already have that fit your changing shape.

The change is greater in the second trimester, with many women opting for at least some maternity clothes around the middle of pregnancy.

Why People Show at Different Times in Pregnancy

"Showing" occurs at different intervals for people, and while it's hard not to compare pregnant bellies, it really is a good policy to avoid comparison.

Reasons that you may show differently:

  • Previous pregnancies
  • Previous abdominal surgery
  • How many babies you're carrying 
  • Position of the baby
  • Your body type and weight

A mother who has had previous children will likely show more quickly in her second pregnancy (or more) than a mother pregnant for the first time. You may find that your pregnancy weight gain alters how you look. You should take into account your previous weight status (slim, normal, overweight) when thinking about when you will show. If you are overweight, you may be worried that you won't show at all.

Many women start to feel the need to be out of their regular clothes and into maternity clothes or larger, looser-fitting clothes by the fourth or fifth month of pregnancy. In addition to your baby bump expanding, you will also have changes to your breasts during pregnancy that will affect the fit of your bra and other clothing.

A Word From Verywell

Changes to your shape during pregnancy are natural. It's recommended that you track your weight gain at the beginning and regularly throughout your pregnancy. You will need to pay attention to eating a balanced diet and getting good nutrition. You need to get appropriate exercise to maintain fitness.

Work with your doctor if you are concerned about whether you are gaining enough weight or too much.

Source:

Weight Gain During Pregnancy. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/maternalinfanthealth/pregnancy-weight-gain.htm.

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