We’re just going to start out this story by saying that your bump looks fine.
“Women come in all different shapes and sizes, and carry differently depending on a number of factors,” Jessica Kiley, MD, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine told Health.com. If this is your first rodeo, it may take a little longer for your uterus to move up and out of your pelvis. During later pregnancies, “the abdominal wall has greater laxity, allowing women to show sooner,” Dr. Kiley says.
Another factor that can affect the shape of your bump is diastasis recti, a super common condition that occurs when your belly starts to stick out as a result of your left and right ab muscles growing wider. Pregnancy can put loads of pressure on your abdomen, so sometimes your muscles in front can’t keep their shape. Diastasis means “separation” and Recti refers to your “rectus abdominis,” aka your ab muscles.
The shape of your bump can also be impacted by your fitness level. “The manner in which a woman carries has everything to do with the tone of her abdominal musculature,” Kecia Gaither, MD, MPH, director of perinatal services at New York’s Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center told The Bump. Tight abs can offer support and lift to your growing uterus, so pilates-loving mamas-to-be often carry higher, particularly with a first pregnancy. “Plus, strong abs hold the baby more into the body, which can cause the bump to appear smaller or less protruding,” says Katie Page, CNM, FACNM, a certified nurse-midwife in Lynchburg, Virginia.
If you happen to be rocking a bump that’s totally centered, you can likely thank your height. Tall women have more up-and-down room between the pubic bone and top of abdomen than petite moms-to-be, which allows for pregnancy weight to distribute more evenly. “Because they tend to have a larger midsection, taller women tend to stick out less and show later than shorter women,” Ross told the Bump. “But if you’re on the short side, there’s a good chance you’ll carry low and around your middle. After all, there’s not a whole lot of other places for baby to grow.”
Why Does the Belly Button Pop?
And then, the belly button pops! During the second trimester, many first-time moms-to-be experience the phenomenon of the popping belly button. Thanks to your growing uterus and the pressure it exerts on your belly, your innie might just become an outie.
The sight of a tiny protrusion where your belly button used to be can seem like an alien invasion. However, it’s a completely normal part of pregnancy, and it’s not permanent. The belly button typically retreats postpartum, so just chalk this up to another interesting transformation during pregnancy.
What if You Have a B-Shaped Belly?
Did you know there’s a name for when your bump appears divided, like a B shape? It’s called a ‘B-belly.’ Often seen in plus-sized pregnant women, a B-belly occurs when a ridge, or a crease, forms around the middle of the belly, dividing it into a top and a bottom bump.
Don’t worry — it’s not about how much weight gain you’ve experienced or anything related to the size of your baby — it’s all about how your body shape adapts to your growing baby. It can make maternity clothes shopping a bit tricky, but belly bands can help create a smoother silhouette if that’s your preference.
How Are You Carrying?
“Carrying low? Must be a boy!” “Carrying high? It’s a girl!”
These are popular old wives’ tales you might hear during your pregnancy checkups. However, healthcare professionals will tell you that the baby’s gender doesn’t dictate how you carry. The shape of your belly is influenced by several factors, including your abdominal muscle tone, the amount of amniotic fluid, the position of the baby, your ligaments, the placenta’s position, and your unique bone structure.
Some taller women, thanks to their long torsos, tend to carry high and may have a less protruding belly. This is due to an even distribution of pregnancy weight gain from the pubic bone to the top of the abdomen. Shorter women, on the other hand, often carry low and might have a more prominent pregnancy bump due to a lack of vertical space for the baby to grow.
What Is a Linea Nigra?
Notice a dark line running down your belly, from your belly button to the pubic bone? That’s the linea nigra, a common pregnancy symptom that often becomes more noticeable during the third trimester.
It’s caused by pregnancy hormones, especially progesterone, which stimulates the body to produce more melanin, causing the skin to darken. It typically fades postpartum, but it can be a striking mark of your pregnancy journey.
Belly Shape and Baby Size
If you’ve been comparing your pregnant belly to a watermelon or any other round fruit, for that matter, it might be fun, but the size of your belly doesn’t necessarily correlate with your baby’s size.
Your fundal height, which is the distance from your pubic bone to the top of your uterus, gives your ob-gyn an indication of your growing baby’s size. So, while your friends and family are placing bets on whether your little one will be a chubby cherub based on your large belly, your healthcare provider may have a different opinion.
A Final Word
To all the amazing moms out there, remember that your bump is as unique and beautiful as you are! It’s a testament to the incredible journey of pregnancy.
And if you’re looking to embrace your bump with style and comfort, look no further than Hatch. Our collection is designed to make you feel like the cool, confident mom you are. From trendy maternity wear to chic accessories, we’ve got you covered.
For more inspiration, tips, and stories, head over to the Babe by Hatch blog. Discover a wealth of resources and join a community of like-minded moms who celebrate their bumps and motherhood in all its glory.