Finding out that you’re pregnant is one of the most special and overwhelming experiences of your life. You likely have a TON of feelings and questions about what to expect now that you’re expecting — that’s completely normal!
Getting ready for the upcoming weeks of pregnancy and a new little human to care for afterward is a big adjustment. One of the most pressing questions on your mind is likely, “When will I start to show?” After all, once you start showing, you’ll have to start sharing the news with friends and family and begin shopping for maternity clothes.
If you have a million questions about when you’ll start showing and what to expect now that you’re pregnant, you’ve come to the right place. Keep reading for answers to all of your questions about your baby bump progression.
This Is My First Pregnancy. When Will I Start Showing?
Whether you’re eager to start showing off your baby bump or dread having to swap out your closet for maternity clothes for the first time, knowing when you’ll start showing is an important step in preparing for pregnancy. The answer to that, though, isn’t quite as simple as stepping into your fave maternity joggers.
How early you can expect your pregnant belly to arrive depends on whether this is your first pregnancy or not, as well as individual and genetic factors, such as how you carry weight in your body pre-pregnancy.
Generally, you can expect your baby bump to start showing around your second trimester of pregnancy or 12 to 16 weeks into pregnancy. If you’re on the petite side, your growing baby will likely start showing off around 12 weeks. Other times, it’ll be more like 16.
However, we want to stress that every woman experiences pregnancy a little bit differently, and it’s impossible to predict how you might carry your pregnancy weight throughout the stages of pregnancy, especially if this is your first baby. That’s part of the magic of pregnancy — every woman’s experience is unique, and you never know what yours will be like until you go through it.
What If I’ve Been Pregnant Before?
If this is your second pregnancy, that baby bump might start making itself known a little earlier and may even start to show up into your first trimester.
Pregnant women often have stretched-out abdominal muscles, and you can retain some of that looseness even after you give birth as your body returns to its pre-pregnancy shape. This means that your baby bump might be more evident than during your previous pregnancy.
When you get pregnant again, those muscles are quicker to stretch out and accommodate the watermelon-sized baby growing in your belly. Because of this, you might start showing as soon as 8 to 12 weeks into a subsequent pregnancy.
Even if this is your first pregnancy, there’s another reason you might start to show more than expected in early pregnancy — multiples! If you’re carrying twins or triplets, your belly has to stretch even more to accommodate more than one babe, and it’s possible you’ll start showing as soon as six weeks into pregnancy. Carrying twins is like speed-dating pregnancy — everything happens a bit faster.
I’m a First-Time Mom. Why Am I Showing So Early?
You’re six weeks into your first pregnancy, and people are already asking to touch your belly in the grocery store. What gives?
You might be shocked by how fast your pregnant belly showed up, but not so fast — there are a number of possible causes of early weight gain that aren’t actually your baby bump.
During the first trimester, your hormones kick into overdrive, getting your body ready to give birth. Your body retains more water than usual, and an unfortunate side effect of this is bloating. So what LOOKS like an early baby bump might be a bloated belly. Experts say that drinking water and eating fiber-rich foods is one way to ease bloat. So ask your healthcare team if this would be a good option if this pregnancy symptom sounds all too familiar.
Another reason you might be showing super early has to do with the tilt of your growing uterus. (No, we aren’t making this up). If your uterus tilts towards the front of your pelvis, you might show much earlier than someone with a uterus that tilts towards their back.
There’s no way to anticipate which way your uterus tilts. It’s another fun surprise you’ll figure out during pregnancy. Nor is there any way to change the direction your uterus tilt; if you’re showing way early and you suspect this is the culprit, talk to your Ob/Gyn. In general, know that a forward-tilted uterus is totally normal — and out of your control.
Finally, it’s possible that you’re showing way earlier than anticipated because you’ve been given the wrong due date. If you suspect you’re further along in your pregnancy than your Ob/Gyn originally thought, talk to your doctor — it’s rare, but it’s possible they miscalculated.
When Can I Start Buying Maternity Clothes?
Time to talk about one of our favorite parts of pregnancy: Maternity clothes shopping!
No matter how long you wait, you’re going to reach a point in your pregnancy when wearing your normal-sized clothes probably isn’t an option anymore. If you’re newly preggo and wondering when to start building that maternity wardrobe, sit tight — we’ve got all the answers for you, mama.
As we talked about earlier, every woman experiences pregnancy differently, and there’s no right answer to the question of when you’ll need to upgrade your closet.
When you start buying maternity clothes totally depends on you and your body — how do you typically carry weight? What clothing styles and materials do you prefer? Do you want to show off your bump or keep it all to yourself for as long as possible?
If this is your first pregnancy, your growing belly (and the top button on your jeans) will likely begin to pop between 16 and 20 weeks of pregnancy. It’s around this time, during your second trimester, that you may want to start collecting some maternity pieces to rely on over the next few months.
By the time you reach your third trimester, you’ll likely have no choice — that baby bump is going to become a watermelon, and your usual standbys aren’t going to fit anymore. You might be tempted to just buy your regular clothes in a size up, but not so fast.
How Maternity Clothes Are Different
During pregnancy, body weight increases at different paces in different places. If you simply buy your favorite pair of jeans in a size or two up, they might fit your waist but drown your legs in fabric.
Maternity clothes, on the other hand, are designed to fit your body as it changes throughout pregnancy. They’ll be proportionally sized to remain comfy and flattering even as your tummy grows.
You might be able to get away with sizing up your normal clothes for a little bit to accommodate your new body type, but at a certain point, those maternity clothes will be a lifesaver… and they’re a lot of fun.
How Does Maternity Clothes Sizing Work?
The great thing about maternity clothes — other than how freaking cute they are — is that, surprisingly, it’s really easy to figure out your size. In fact, it couldn’t be easier. Your size in maternity clothes will likely be the same as your normal size.
Maternity clothing brands take into consideration how your body changes during pregnancy when they size their clothes. They know where women typically experience weight gain and which areas stay the same size, so it’s pretty simple to find the right fit, even if your tummy is the size of a watermelon.
If you typically wear size 8 jeans, for instance, you’ll likely also be a size 8 in maternity jeans as well. In most cases, you’ll be either the same size you’ve always been or just a size bigger. Heave a sigh of relief: That’s one less thing to figure out during this crazy time in your life.
Weight Gain and Pregnancy
Weight gain is a completely normal part of a healthy pregnancy. In fact, most women gain between 25 and 35 pounds over the course of their pregnancy (although, again, every pregnancy is unique). This sudden weight gain can be overwhelming, even if you’ve spent a long time hoping and preparing for pregnancy.
If you find yourself struggling with your body image and self-love during pregnancy, reach out to your healthcare provider, friends, and family for support. Your body is doing the incredible work of growing a new human during this time, and you deserve all the self-compassion and love.
Knowing when you’ll start showing and what to expect during pregnancy is one of the best ways to prepare yourself to be a mom — so props to you for doing the research!
Take a deep breath and remember, you’ve got this. We’ll be cheering you on every step of the way until your little one arrives — and after that.