What to Expect as Your Pregnant Belly Changes
Wondering how your pregnant belly will change through your pregnancy as your baby grows? Here's what to expect, when you may start to show, and other details to know ahead of time!
One of the most exciting things about being pregnant is watching your baby bump grow and your pregnant belly change. Your baby bump progression is a fascinating visual indication of your developing little one. Here’s what you need to know and what you can expect as your baby bump grows.
When Will My Baby Bump Show?
Typically, you’ll start to “show” in your second trimester, when you are somewhere between 16 to 20 weeks. However, you know your body better than anyone and you may notice changes to your belly much sooner. If you’re petite or didn’t carry a lot of weight pre-pregnancy, you could start showing as early as 12 weeks. If you’re pregnant with multiples, you could potentially start to show at the end of your first trimester. Finally, if this baby is not your first, then you may also start “showing” sooner than a first-time parent.
Healthcare professionals will often compare your growing baby to the sizes of a variety of fruits to help you visualize how big your growing baby is at different stages of pregnancy. At 16 weeks, your baby may be the size of an avocado. By 20 weeks, he or she might be the size of a banana, and at 24 weeks they could be around the size of a cantaloupe. Your baby will be the size of an eggplant at 28 weeks and then the size of a pineapple at 35 weeks. At 40 weeks, your baby could be as big as a watermelon! (And, let's be honest, you might really feel like that’s what you’re carrying around.)
Will I See Other Changes to My Pregnant Belly?
Along with your belly’s growth as it accommodates your baby, you may notice some other changes:
Around 26 weeks, you may notice that your innie belly button has popped into an outie. This is perfectly harmless, and it will go back to normal after you give birth.
Skin Anomalies - Linea Nigra
Around 23 weeks, you may see a dark vertical line that extends from your belly button to your pubic region. This is called linea nigra and is caused by the pregnancy hormones that may also make your areolas darker and cause hyperpigmentation on your face. These will all fade within a few months after your baby’s debut.
As your baby grows and takes up more space, your uterus will expand and push into your stomach. This can result in heartburn, which may become uncomfortable. There are a number of natural ways to get relief from heartburn, including eating yogurt, drinking milk with honey, or taking over-the-counter medications such as Tums - Just be sure to confirm with your doctor that any over-the-counter medication is safe to take while pregnant, if you’re not sure. If heartburn becomes severe, ask your doctor about safe prescription medications that will bring you relief.
Around 14 weeks, you may begin to feel ligament pain as your joints stretch to accommodate your growing belly and prepare your body for labor and delivery. They shrink down again after you give birth, thus alleviating any discomfort.
Kicking When You Touch Your Belly
Around four to five months pregnant, you may start to feel a fluttering in your stomach that feels similar to butterflies. That sensation is called quickening, and it’s a sign that your baby is moving. Around 24 weeks, you will start to experience some actual kicks. You might also notice that when you touch your belly, your baby responds by moving or kicking.
During the third trimester, you may experience stomach tightening or contractions known as Braxton-Hicks. These aren’t actual contractions. It’s simply your uterus’s way of preparing for childbirth.
When Can I Expect My Baby Bump to Go Away?
Your baby bump won’t go away immediately after birth. It might take some time for the skin and muscles that have spent months stretching to accommodate your little one to return to their pre-pregnancy size. In the meantime, enjoy your sweet new baby as you begin this exciting next chapter of your life.