Pregnancy: When Do You Start Showing?

Article By
Kate
Published On
13 Dec, 2023
Read Time
3 minutes

For many people, the first visible sign of pregnancy is the appearance of a baby bump, but the timing can vary greatly from person to person. It can be a bit of a waiting game, but we’re here to talk you through when people usually start to show in pregnancy.

In this post, we'll explore the factors that can impact when you start showing and cover how having multiples or your second baby can affect when your bump appears.

When do you start showing?

Usually, pregnant people notice their bump is starting to show long before others notice, and the truth is, every pregnant person is different. Some people have very large bumps very early, others don’t, and some taller people don’t look pregnant until right near the third trimester!  

Some people start showing as early as eight weeks, but typically, pregnant people will notice a small bump appear at around 12 to 13 weeks (as their first trimester comes to an end). Baby is typically around the size of a plum at this stage.

However, other people notice their bump show between weeks 16 and 20. The uterus is usually level with the belly button at 20 weeks, so this is when you ‘pop’ and get a recognisable baby bump. 

Will I show sooner if I’m pregnant with multiples?

There's no set timeline for when your baby bump will appear, but people who're expecting multiples (twins, triplets or more) sometimes start showing as early as six weeks into their pregnancy.

Remember, the only way to know for sure if you're expecting multiple babies is to have an ultrasound.

Do you start to show earlier with a second baby?

Yes, you may show a little sooner with a second pregnancy. This is because your first pregnancy stretched your abdominal and uterine muscles and prepared your body for what's to come.

But again, it varies from one pregnancy to the next – no two bumps are the same!

What effects when you start to show in pregnancy?

As we've covered, no two pregnancies look or feel the same, and there are lots of factors that can affect when your bump starts to show. Including if:

  • You have strong abdominal muscles: If your abs are well-defined, your baby bump may not show until later in your pregnancy due to your uterus being concealed by your abdominal muscles. If your stomach muscles aren't as strong, you may show your pregnancy earlier.
  • You have separated tummy muscles: Diastasis recti is the separation of the abdominal muscles, and this can make a bump more visible earlier on. This is normal and common for people who've been pregnant before (especially if they've carried big babies) or who are over 35 years old. 
  • You're expecting multiples: More babies, bigger bump, maybe earlier.
  • You've had previous pregnancies: You may show earlier if this isn't your first pregnancy.
  • Your uterus points forward: The angle of the uterus can influence your bump. If your uterus is retroverted (tilts towards the back), you mightn't notice a baby bump until later. But if you have an anteverted uterus (which slants forwards), you may show earlier.
  • You're bloated: Your baby bump may appear more pronounced due to bloating – a common symptom of early pregnancy. Added weight and pressure of a growing baby can slow down digestion and lead to an increase in gas buildup.
  • You naturally carry weight around your stomach: Every person carries weight differently and there’s not just one belly shape for everyone! People who carry more weight around their midsection sometimes notice that their belly is shaped like a B at first, rather than a D. Rest assured that a B-shaped bump is common and not a cause for concern.

When to see the doctor or midwife if you’re worried about how much you’re showing

It can be tempting to compare the size of your bump, and when it appears, to other pregnant people (think researching images of pregnancy or standing in front of the mirror inspecting your belly) but try to remember that as long as your doctor has no concerns and your baby is growing healthily, the size of your bump – whether large or small – doesn’t matter.

If you are concerned about the size of your bump or worried about weight gain during pregnancy, don’t hesitate to seek advice from your GP or midwife. They will be able to measure you and rule out any complications.