The pregnant belly goes through so many stages throughout the 9 months of pregnancy. Follow our month-to-month shape and size guide on your pregnancy journey.
The Pregnant Belly
Congrats! You are pregnant. You are probably feeling all the feels, from being a bit nervous to blissful excitement. You might have all kinds of questions like “When will I start to show?” “How big will my belly be?” “What if I am way bigger than everyone else or way smaller?”
First of all, before we get started, take it from a mom who has had 4 babies; everyone is completely different when it comes to size and shape! I even differed from baby to baby. So, don’t get overly concerned about your size being different from others. We all just carry our babies differently.
What week does the pregnant belly show?
When you start showing is really dependent on your body. Some women start showing as early as 10-11 weeks. They will start to notice that they look like they just ate their grandma’s entire apple pie, while others start showing around 16 weeks or so.
It is pretty common if you are smaller, you will show earlier than a person with a little more weight around their midsection.
Just remember there is no right time to start showing.
What does a growing belly feel like?
We can answer this in one word, uncomfortable.
But here is the long version. You will feel sharp pains at times and other stretching as your belly begins to grow and stretch to make room for your little one. You could feel like you can’t breathe at times as well as your baby starts putting pressure every which way and making it a little harder to breathe.
Does a pregnant belly feel fat?
At first, you might feel like your belly is fat, bloated, and squishy. You will start to notice that your clothes don’t fit either, but in the coming weeks, your stomach will begin to get hard, and you will not feel fat.
The Pregnant Belly in the First Trimester (Weeks 1-12)
Most women make it through at least half their first trimester without even knowing that they are pregnant. Once they find out they are pregnant, it is fun to follow a week-by-week pregnancy calendar to track the growth of your baby.
You might see some of the first trimester symptoms like morning sickness and feel bloated and tired.
At the beginning of the first trimester, you are not showing quite yet. Your body is yet to stretch because your baby is very small.
First-trimester size and shape
You are likely to feel a little rounder towards the end of the trimester. This is caused mostly to bloating and the fact that you are growing a little bundle of joy.
By the time you hit the end of the first 12 weeks, your very close friends and family might start to see your bump without you saying anything if they are around you often.
You are likely to be living in leggings or feeling like your pants are a little tighter by the time you hit week 12 because your uterus has reached the size of a grapefruit.
Will I need Maternity Clothes in the first trimester?
Most people don’t need maternity clothes during the first trimester. Usually, you can get by wearing stretchy clothes, your pants unbuttoned, and using a belly band.
For some women, like me, you will need to have a few maternity items on hand. Likely just some pants.
The Pregnant Belly in the Second Trimester (Weeks 12-27)
So much is happening in the second semester of your pregnancy! You will definitely start looking and feeling pregnant, and you are sure to experience some second-semester symptoms.
Many women say this is the time where they have the most energy and feel the most comfortable, so take advantage of those good days!
Second-trimester size and shape
It is pretty much a given by the time you hit the end of your second semester; everyone will know you are pregnant by looking at your cute belly! Your uterus is now as big as a basketball, making your stomach no longer squishy but hard to the touch.
By the time the second semester hits, people claim there are two ways people carry their babies, like a basketball or like a watermelon.
If you are carrying your baby like a basketball, it means that your belly is all in front like a round circle. From behind, people might not even know that you are pregnant. An old wive’s tale says this means you will have a baby boy.
If you are carrying your baby like a watermelon, it means you are carrying them a bit wider and more horizontal on your body. From the back, you can see that you are pregnant. And yes, if you follow the wive’s tale, this means you are having a boy!
By the second trimester, your growing pregnant belly will probably be causing you a bit of pain and discomfort. This does not mean that anything is wrong. It is just your body stretching to make room for your baby. You will notice most of this pain on the lower sides of your abdomen. This is known as round ligament pain.
As your body stretches, you might notice that you are very itchy. Use a high-quality creamy to help you not itch quite so much, so you are a little bit more comfortable.
What do I do if someone wants to touch my belly?
There is something about a pregnant belly that makes people want to touch it! You can almost guarantee that people will be asking to touch it, which we might find a little weird.
Be sure you set boundaries that you are comfortable with! If you don’t want people touching your belly, tell them! Remember it is still your body that you happen to be growing a baby in.
The Pregnant Belly in the Third Trimester (Weeks 28-40)
Can you believe that you are in the home stretch to having a baby! This is an exciting time, and you are guaranteed that your pregnant belly might look bigger and bigger every single day!
There is a good chance that you will notice some third-trimester symptoms and start thinking about how you will know if you are in labor or not when it gets closer. It is important to remember to pack your hospital bag so that you are prepared when the time comes to a head to the hospital.
During the third trimester, you will probably be the most uncomfortable of all your trimesters of pregnancy. Your uterus is right under your ribs, probably making you feel uncomfortable no matter what you do. You might feel like breathing is a little bit hard and that you are out of the room, but good news, your body will just keep stretching, making room for your bundle of joy.
Third-trimester size and shape
By now, people might be telling you that you look like you are ready to have a baby! They might even ask you if you are having twins or make the comment that you are so small. Just remember that everybody is different. I know it is hard, but try not to pay attention to the rude comments that some people say about your growing baby.
In the third trimester, especially at the end of your pregnancy, you might notice that you are carrying your baby high, low, or wide. There is no right or wrong way to carry your baby.
You will certainly feel like you are 110% out of the room, especially at the end of your pregnancy. Just try to relax and find a comfortable position to rest up for delivery.
The Pregnant Belly AFTER Delivery
A misconception with first-time moms is that you will deliver your baby, and your body will miraculously return to normal.
This takes time! So give yourself grace.
As soon as you have your baby, you will actually start losing weight right away. Your uterus will begin to shrink to around your belly button, and you will begin losing extra fluids that you needed to grow your baby.
Over the next several weeks, you will find that you will be going to the bathroom often. This will help your pregnant belly after delivery. By the time you are 6 weeks post partum, you will notice that your uterus is back to where it was prior to being pregnant.
Will I need to wear maternity clothes after delivery?
There is no need to rush getting back into your clothes feeling disappointed in the first several weeks after delivery. Wear your maternity clothes while your body adjusts or some really stretchy leggings or pants.
Most women don’t get back into their regular clothes until at least 6 weeks, but many women take much longer. Remember to give yourself plenty of time and grace with your pregnant belly.
What do you wonder most about your pregnant belly stages? Ask in the comments!