While seeing a positive pregnancy test will confirm you’ve got a little one on the way, it’ll still usually be quite a while before you actually see the baby bump start to develop.
So, how soon after getting the news of your pregnancy will you start to see a baby bump?
This guide from PregnancyResource.org breaks down when a pregnant belly is visible and five factors that affect how quickly it begins to show.
When Do You Start Showing Pregnancy Signs?
The first signs of pregnancy can begin as soon as a week after conception. Changes in hormones can lead to physical changes like swollen breasts, light spotting, and darkening areolas.
However, these changes may only be visible to you. In many cases, a baby bump is the only sign that makes it clear to the rest of the world that you’re expecting.
At around 12 weeks — coinciding with the end of the first trimester — your growing baby might no longer be able to hide between the pubic bone. Around this time, the baby should begin to protrude into the abdomen.
If you’re expecting twins or triplets, your baby bump can even show up before the first trimester ends — sometimes as early as six weeks!
You might begin to notice a growing belly much sooner than expected, though it might not quite be a baby bump — instead, your belly may grow due to an increase in bloating.
Pregnancy increases fluid build-up, which can concentrate around your stomach and make your belly look bigger. If you’re underweight, a bloated belly can be much more pronounced.
How Does a Baby Bump Progress?
How a baby bump progresses can vary from person to person.
In general, a baby should grow to about the size of a lemon by the end of the first trimester (12 weeks). You may notice that your belly gets slightly bigger. However, others may not be able to tell that you’re pregnant.
By month four in your pregnancy, which is the start of the second trimester, some pregnancy symptoms like morning sickness may have leveled off. At this point, your baby may reach the size of an avocado.
Depending on your weight and height, your baby bump might be visible to some people.
By month six of your pregnancy, your baby should be about the size of cantaloupe, which should be visible to everyone.
As you begin to approach your due date and enter the last trimester of pregnancy, your baby will grow even more, and your belly will fill with amniotic fluid.
By this point, you will have a very full baby bump.
5 Factors That Affect When You Start Showing
Everyone begins showing their baby bump at a different time, and that time can depend on a few different factors, such as if it’s a first pregnancy or second pregnancy, or even someone’s height!
Here are five factors that can affect when you start showing:
1. Your Weight
In the early weeks of pregnancy, your body weight is one of the most significant factors that determine your baby bump progression (and how soon you’ll need maternity clothes).
If you are underweight (defined as a body mass index or BMI less than 18.5), then you should begin to see your baby bump much sooner — as soon as the end of the first trimester.
However, if you have a high BMI and extra weight around the belly, it might take a bit longer for your baby bump to show.
2. Your Height
The taller you are, the longer your torso tends to be. This means that the pregnancy weight you gain will be more dispersed compared to shorter women.
On the other hand, if you are on the shorter side, your baby bump will likely show a bit sooner.
3. Your Abdominal Muscles
If you have strong abdominal muscles, they will be better able to “lift up” your growing uterus, which can evenly disperse some of the weight along your torso.
However, if your abdominal muscles aren’t as strong, then your baby bump can succumb to gravity and find itself in a lower position, which protrudes more and is slightly more noticeable.
4. Your Uterus Position
Some women can have a uterus that’s in the posterior position — this means that it leans back towards the spine.
On the other hand, some women may have a uterus that’s tilted towards the abdomen.
If your uterus tilts forward, your baby bump will show sooner than in someone with a backward-tilting uterus.
There’s no way for you to tell beforehand if your uterus is tilting in a particular direction.
However, your doctor can tell you about the tilt of your uterus by performing an ultrasound exam.
5. How Many Pregnancies You’ve Had
A baby bump may appear later in first-time mothers because their stomach muscles aren’t stretched out from a previous pregnancy.
This means that they carry their baby up higher in the abdomen.
However, in mothers who are in their second pregnancy or later, the abdominal muscles can be more relaxed or even separated (called diastasis recti), which means that the baby is positioned lower, showing more.
In addition, a previous pregnancy can make the uterus tilt forward, which can make a baby bump show more easily.
For this reason, second and subsequent pregnancies (or those of multiples) will likely show sooner than they did with the first baby.
Many factors affect whether or not you show your baby bump in early pregnancy, such as your body type, abdominal muscle strength, uterus position, and the number of previous pregnancies.
In general, women begin to show a baby bump at around 12 weeks into the pregnancy.
However, everyone is different — there’s no exact day when a baby bump will appear, and there is also no exact way to predict when it will appear.
As long as your pregnancy is healthy and your health care provider is happy with your progress, your baby bump should begin to appear when your baby’s growth is big enough and ready to show!
Because your provider knows your medical history and is tracking your baby’s progress, you can always ask them for an estimate!
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Bridget Reed is a Tampa-based content development manager, writer, and editor at GR0; specializing in content related to varying fields including medicine, health, and small businesses. Bridget went to St. Petersburg College and majored in Management and Organizational Leadership.
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