One thing many pregnant people anticipate is being able to show their pregnancy -- literally -- to the world via their growing baby belly. I vividly remember checking my stomach profile every morning before getting dressed when I was pregnant. It was part excitement, part confirmation, part validation -- I wanted so much to actually look pregnant.
You might be in the same boat -- wondering, checking, Googling... when will you finally start to show? On the flip side, you may feel uncomfortable with bodily changes, especially ones that involve weight and shape change. That's ok, too, and you're not alone. Body image and bodily dissatisfaction issues affect the majority of people, especially women. Being pregnant is a state in which you are told to embrace and love your growing and glowing body instead of heeding the typical cultural messages of "lose weight, get thin!" If you have a negative body image, it may take you longer to embrace your growing bump, if at all. And that's ok, as long as you are ok -- if pregnancy affects your mental or emotional well being, it's important to seek support from counseling or therapy.
No matter how you feel about your pregnant belly, you're probably curious to know when you'll show. Short answer: it's different for everyone. The long answer (and likely the reason you're still reading) is a little more complicated and depends on a number of variables.
What Does It Mean to Show?
So what does it even mean to "show"? On the one hand, I'm talking about having a bigger, "pregnant looking" belly. On the other hand -- er, on the inside, rather, there are processes happening that cause these changes in your shape.
As your baby grows, your uterus grows too, which pushes other organs up and out. Initially, these changes are subtle and not typically enough to look as much pregnant as you look bloated. Like, one-too-many-slices-of-pizza bloated. As your baby grows, your uterus, which is normally tucked perfectly inside your pelvis, will pop out above your pelvis and can actually be felt on the outside of your abdomen by you or your care provider. This happens in the second trimester, usually around 13 or 14 weeks. At this time, your OB or midwife will start measuring your "fundal height," which is the distance from your pubic bone to the top of your uterus measured in centimeters. Measuring this distance gives care providers an estimate of your baby's growth, as the measurement after 20 weeks often matches the number of weeks in your pregnancy.
So, When Will You Show?
For some people who are pregnant for the first time, an pregnant bump may begin to appear in the middle of the second trimester, between 16-20 weeks. This is especially true if you have little body fat or have a petite or narrow frame. For other first-time pregnant people, especially those who have more body fat, consider themselves "curvy" or plus size, it can take longer to see a pregnant belly -- toward the end of the second trimester or even into the third trimester.
If this isn't your first pregnancy, or if you are older (ie, not in your 20s), you are likely to show earlier, sometimes as early as the first trimester. People who are older don't have as strong stomach muscles (unless you've been working regularly on core strength!) and may show their pregnancy earlier. People who have been pregnant before also have more relaxed stomach muscles and the body seems to "remember" how to look pregnant earlier than someone who has never been pregnant. Many experienced pregnant people report "popping" (showing) in the first trimester or early second trimester.
Showing or "popping" may mean something different you than it does to others. While you may think you're showing at 16 weeks, strangers may not bat an eye -- or ask an inappropriate question -- about your pregnancy until you're late in your second trimester (closer to 20-27 weeks) or later. We tend to be more sensitive about noticing things in/on our body than what other people notice.
How Will You Show?
Your body type, including your torso length, and where you carry your weight, will also determine how your pregnant belly looks. For people who have more body weight, or carry more of their weight in their midsection, they may have more of a "B" shaped pregnant belly than the stock-photo-standard "D" shaped belly. The B belly is also known as a plus size pregnancy double belly. According to Plus Size Birth, "women who have 'muffin tops' usually get a B belly during pregnancy." Some B bellies turn into D bellies by the end of pregnancy, and some do not.
Bodies come in all shapes and sizes and develop in all different ways and times, so it only makes sense that pregnant bellies would follow similar variations. If you still find yourself incessantly Googling pregnant belly images and looking every few hours in the mirror at your own, have some patience (easier said than done, I know). In a short period of time, you will look pregnant to yourself and those around you.
When did you first notice your pregnancy "showing"? At what week did someone else first notice your pregnant belly?