There is something incredibly fascinating about a pregnant belly.
Bellies can range from teeny tiny, barely there baby bumps to impressive basketball-up-the-jumper sizes.
You find yourself unconsciously rubbing your bump and in the home stretch, other people might want to rub your belly too.
Some pregnant women don’t mind belly touches, others do. It’s your belly – you decide!
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?
Every pregnancy and every woman is different.
A first time pregnant woman may see her bump show at the 12-15 week of pregnancy. This is around the end of the first trimester when morning sickness typically ends.
At the start of the second trimester 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 size and shape, and weight.
If this isn’t your first pregnancy, your baby belly might ‘pop’ out earlier than last pregnancy. This is because the muscles in your abdominals are looser.
It’s quite common for second or subsequent pregnancies to be hard to hide from much earlier on!
#2: What is the line on my pregnant belly? Is it normal?
Pregnancy 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.
All of a sudden you might notice there’s a line running down the middle of your belly!
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’).
The linea nigra is often more noticeable on darker skin than fair skin.
Learn more about this in Linea Nigra During Pregnancy – What You Need To Know.
#3: Pregnant belly button changes – what is normal?
About midway through pregnancy, the top of your uterus is at the middle of your pregnancy bump.
If you have an ‘innie’ you might notice it getting shallower or even flattening out.
As your baby is growing and your pregnant belly gets bigger, this becomes more pronounced. Some women find their ‘innie’ becomes an ‘outie’.
The skin around this area can become very itchy. This is due to the skin stretching – causing stretch marks.
These are red, pink or purplish lines that appear on your skin as it stretches to make way for your growing baby.
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 – what does this mean?
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 notice this 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.
Some women notice baby dropping into the pelvis. Other women only notice when comparing belly photos from a few weeks prior. The difference between 38 and 40 weeks can be startling!
There may be pressure in your pelvis and feels like a bowling ball between your legs. It doesn’t mean labour is going to begin immediately, but it’s not long until you meet your little one.
Be sure to read When Should A Baby Engage In Pregnancy? for more information.
#5: Do I need a pregnancy belly support band?
Back pain and aches are common during pregnancy. This starts in the first trimester and eases in the second trimester. But the last trimester can really take this to the next level – especially if you throw in pelvic instability or sciatica.
If you’re struggling with back and pelvic pain, a pregnancy belly band might be the answer.
Pregnancy belly bands are designed to support your back and abdomen.
They 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 take time to heal and regain their strength.
A belly band gives added support to your core and lower back, decreasing discomfort.
Overall, a belly band shouldn’t be used as a bandaid solution to an underlying health condition.
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 little one arrives, you will have a post baby bump; it might look like you’re still pregnant. You might even still wear your maternity clothes for comfort after birth.
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 on your genes, your body mass index, and your health and fitness level – before and during pregnancy. Healthy weight gain during pregnancy can mean an easier recovery after birth.
Rmember 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 takes 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 – what is a normal pregnant belly size?
As your pregnancy progresses, you might hear comments on the size of your baby bump that cause you concern or anxiety, such as:
‘Are you sure there’s only one baby in there?’
’26 weeks! You look like you’re ready to give birth now.’
Just remember, no two pregnancies are the same.
What’s important is you and your baby are healthy and well.
Your care provider tracks baby’s growth by measuring your belly with a tape measure. Health conditions such as gestational diabetes or high blood pressure can impact your baby’s size.
Body shape, muscle tone and bone structure and shape have a lot to do with how you carry your belly.
Weight gain differs too, and this can impact how easy your baby bump is to see.
Comparing pregnant bellies with others 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.
5 Common Myths About Pregnant Bellies – What You Need To Know
Pregnant belly myth #1:
You might hear this a lot – oh you’re carrying high/low, or out the front/to the sides … so you must be having a boy/girl.
It’s an old wives’ tale the position and shape of your belly has anything to do with the sex of your baby!
Baby bumps come in all shapes and sizes.
Pregnant belly myth #2:
Big bump means a big baby, small bump means a small baby … right?
Not so! There are many variations of baby bumps!
Your size and muscle tone has an impact on the way your baby will be lying on the inside.
Pregnant belly myth #3:
Most women prefer to avoid stretch marks. Another myth is cocoa butter or or product X prevents stretch marks and it’s not true.
Stretch marks occurring depends on your collagen and genetics.
Pregnant belly myth #4:
Some people believe morning sickness is an indication if you’re having a boy or a girl.
If you had bad morning sickness the theory is higher levels of pregnancy hormones mean a girl. No or little nausea means a boy because there are lower levels of hormones.
The small studies done show conflicting results and there’s little evidence to support the theory.
Pregnancy belly myth #5:
Another myth is heartburn means you will have a baby with lots of hair!
A small study from John Hopkins University found a link between heartburn and the amount of hair babies have at birth.
It’s thought high levels of hormones that relax your digestives muscles are responsible for baby’s hair growth.