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.
A pregnant belly is also something of a magnet.
You will often find yourself unconsciously rubbing your baby bump.
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 pregnancy bump start to show at about 12-15 weeks, or around the end of the first trimester when morning sickness typically ends.
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 baby belly ‘pops’ out quite a lot sooner than you remember from previous pregnancies. 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?
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.
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?
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 middle of your pregnancy bump.
If you’ve always had an ‘innie’ 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 this area of your belly can also become very itchy. This is due to the skin stretching – causing those trademark 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 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 baby bump 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. It doesn’t mean that labour is going to begin immediately, but it is an exciting sign that birth isn’t far away.
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 can start in the first 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, late in pregnancy, 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 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 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 baby arrives, you will have a post baby bump; 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. Healthy weight gain during pregnancy can mean an easier recovery after birth.
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 – What Is A Normal Pregnant Belly Size?
Everyone seems to have an opinion on the size of your baby bump 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, loved ones and even total strangers want to share their comments on the size of your baby bump.
‘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’.
It can be really hard to hear constant comments about the size of your belly and not feel worried or concerned.
Just remember, no two pregnancies are the same. A woman can carry differently from one baby to the next.
Pregnancy weight can differ widely depending on genetics and the baby you’re carrying.
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. A health condition such as gestational diabetes or high blood pressure can impact how big or small your baby grows.
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 or their muscle tone is stronger than others.
Other women are rounder at the sides than out the front. Every woman’s weight gain varies during pregnancy and this can impact how easy your baby bump is to see.
Comparing your pregnant belly with other baby bumps 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 in it!
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! As mentioned above, there are so many variations of baby bumps! Women who have more than one baby might notice the second pregnancy bump is different and this could be simply to do with looser muscles.
Your size and muscle tone as a huge impact on the way your baby will be lying on the inside.
Pregnant belly myth #3:
It’s fair to say most women would prefer to avoid stretch marks and will look for some way to avoid it. Another myth is that cocoa butter or coconut oil or product X will prevent these marks and it’s just not true.
How much your skin marks when it stretches depends on your collagen and genetics.
Pregnant belly myth #4:
Technically not about your pregnant belly but some people believe morning sickness is an indication if you’re having a boy or a girl.
If you’re having bad morning sickness then the theory is the higher levels of hormones mean you’re carrying a girl. No or little nausea means a boy because there are lower levels of hormones.
Of course, there’s little research to back up these theories and the small studies that have been done show conflicting results.
Pregnancy belly myth #5:
Another myth that’s not quite about your baby bump is having heartburn means you will have a baby with a lot of hair!
You might be looking for tips to relieve heartburn during pregnancy and suddenly find out it means your baby will be quite hairy at birth! A small study from John Hopkins University found a link between heartburn and the amount of hair babies have at birth.
They believe it’s likely the high levels of hormones that relax the muscles in your digestive system are also responsible for your baby’s hair growth.