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When will my baby bump start to show?
There isn't a set time when moms-to-be start sporting an obviously pregnant belly – every woman is different. Some women keep their pre-pregnancy belly far into the second trimester, while others start showing in the first trimester. Some women notice bloating (not the same as "showing," but a swelling that can make their pants fit tighter) shortly after they get a positive pregnancy test.
First-time moms usually begin developing a baby bump between 12 and 16 weeks. Moms who’ve already been pregnant start showing sooner, since their uterine and abdominal muscles have already been stretched from an earlier pregnancy. (See the results of our poll on belly bump timing in first and later pregnancies.)
"By about 12 weeks, the uterus expands above the pubic bone," says Catherine Hansen, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Texas Medical Branch Galveston. "Before that point, the uterus remains within the pelvis and isn't usually visible."
If your belly is expanding sooner than expected, it could be due to these conditions:
Less often, twins or multiples are responsible for an early bulge.
Should I be worried if I’m not showing yet?
If you're showing later than expected, don't fret. "The uterus can rest in the body in a variety of positions," says Hansen. "Sometimes a woman's uterus is tilted toward the back (retroverted), which can cause her to show later. Conversely, women whose uterus is tilted forward (anteverted) may show earlier."
Showing late doesn't automatically mean that your baby is too small. "We only start to assess whether the baby is measuring too small when we get to the second and third trimester," says Hansen.
If there's any reason for concern, your health care provider will do an ultrasound to make sure you've been given the right due date. Babies who are smaller than expected for their gestational age will get frequent monitoring to make sure they're doing well.