There is something incredibly fascinating about a pregnant belly.
Bellies can range from teeny tiny barely there bumps to impressive basketball-up-the-jumper sizes.
A pregnant belly is also something of a magnet.
You will often find yourself unconsciously rubbing your belly.
And there are often other people who want to give your belly a rub too.
Mamas-to-be usually want to know everything there is to know about the pregnant belly.
Pregnant Belly – 7 Interesting Facts
Here are 7 facts about your pregnant belly you might not know.
#1: What Week Does A Pregnant Belly Show?
How long is a piece of string? Every pregnancy and every woman is different.
That being said, on average, a first time pregnant woman can expect to see her pregnant belly start to show at about 12-15 weeks.
This is because around this time your uterus starts to expand above your pelvic bone.
There are other factors affecting the ‘when’ of your pregnant belly showing, such as:
- Whether you’ve had previous abdominal surgery
- How many babies are on board
- Where your baby is positioned
- Your body type and weight
If this isn’t your first pregnancy, you might notice your belly ‘pops’ out quite a lot sooner than you remember from previous pregnancies.
This is because the muscles in your abdominals are looser.
#2: What Is The Line On My Pregnant Belly?
Something you learn pretty quickly when you become pregnant is hormones can cause the weirdest things to happen.
One of these things is the effect on your skin.
Increasing levels of estrogen make your body produce more melanin, the pigment responsible for skin, hair and eye colour.
The line you see running down the middle of your stomach is, in fact, always there.
It connects the abdominal muscles and it’s called the linea alba (from the Latin, meaning ‘white line’).
During pregnancy, the line stretches and begins to darken. Then it’s given the name linea nigra (from the Latin ‘black line’).
Learn more about this in Linea Nigra During Pregnancy – What You Need To Know.
#3: Pregnant Belly Button Changes
The very spot that connected you to your own mother is about to feel the effects of your growing baby.
About midway through pregnancy, the top of your uterus is at the height of your belly button.
If you’ve always had an ‘innie’ belly button you might notice it getting shallower or even flattening out.
As your pregnant belly gets bigger, this will become more pronounced. Some women even find their ‘innie’ becomes an ‘outie’.
The skin around your belly button can also become very itchy. This is due to the skin stretching.
You can use a pregnancy friendly lotion – like coconut oil – on the area, if it helps to relieve the irritation.
Your belly button will usually revert back to its old ways after your baby is born.
But don’t expect it to be exactly the same shape or size!
#4: My Pregnant Belly Has Dropped
By the time you hit the third trimester you’re really over having heartburn, shortness of breath and no appetite.
Then one day your belly drops and suddenly you can breathe and eat again.
Your belly drops because your baby’s head is moving down into your pelvis.
It’s also known as ‘lightening’ or engaging.
Most first time mothers will have this happen at some stage in the weeks leading up to labour.
Women who have given birth before might not experience it before labour begins.
Ideally your baby is head down, with her back facing your belly. Once her head drops into this lower position, she will stay there.
Some women actually notice the sensation of the baby dropping into the pelvis. This can be quite a sudden movement.
In any case, you’re likely to notice your belly looks much lower, and you have more room to breathe.
You might feel like there is more pressure in your pelvis, and sometimes it feels as if there’s a bowling ball between your legs.
Be sure to read When Should A Baby Engage In Pregnancy? for more information.
#5: Do I Need A Belly Support Band?
Back aches and pains are common during pregnancy. The last trimester can really take this to the next level -especially if you throw in pelvic instability or sciatica.
If you’re struggling, late in pregnancy, with back and pelvic pain, a belly band might be the answer.
Belly bands are designed to support your back and abdomen.
They can remind you to improve your posture, and particularly to avoid overextending your lower back – something many pregnant women do.
A belly band can also be really useful after you’ve given birth.
Your abdominal muscles will be weak and stretched, and will take time to heal and regain their strength.
A belly band can give added support to your core and lower back, decreasing discomfort.
Overall, a belly band shouldn’t be used as a band aid solution to an underlying problem.
Seek the support and advice of a specialist in pregnancy, such as a women’s health physiotherapist.
#6: Your Pregnant Belly Won’t Disappear Straight After Birth
Your body has done an incredible job of stretching to accommodate your growing baby.
When your baby arrives, you will have a post baby belly; it might look like you’re still pregnant.
Your uterus, abdominal muscles and skin all need time to return to their original shape, or close to it.
It takes about 4-6 weeks for your uterus to shrink completely back to its original size.
In reality, your post baby belly could hang around for months or years.
This depends a lot on your genes, as well as on your health and fitness level – before and during pregnancy.
It’s always good to remember a flat stomach isn’t the most important thing to be concerned about after you have a baby.
Even the most body-positive women still wonder how long it will take for their post baby belly to disappear.
Feeling strong and healthy is more important than how you look.
For tips on dealing with your post baby belly, be sure to read How To Lose Belly Fat After Giving Birth – 7 Effective Tips.
#7: Pregnant Belly Size
Everyone seems to have an opinion on your belly size once you reveal the fact you’re pregnant.
Comments can range from ‘Wow! You’re not even showing’, to ‘You’re already huge!’
As your pregnancy progresses, you might find friends, relatives and even total strangers want to share their comments on the size of your belly.
‘Are you sure there’s only one baby in there?’
‘You are too small to be 30 weeks’.
‘Your baby will be too big to birth’.
No two pregnancies are the same. A woman can carry differently from one baby to the next.
What’s important is that you and your baby are healthy and well.
Your care provider will keep track of your baby’s growth by measuring your belly.
Measurements can vary a little because your baby might have a growth spurt one week.
Some women ‘hide’ their pregnant belly because they have long torsos. Others are rounder at the sides than out the front.
Comparing your pregnant belly with other bellies won’t tell you much either.
Don’t worry! Your body is doing a great job of growing your perfect baby.
To find out more, be sure to read 7 Reasons Why Belly Size Doesn’t Always Equate To Baby Size.