Is it normal to look more pregnant than I really am?
Yes, most likely. There's no one-size-fits-all formula for how women show during pregnancy, says George Macones, head of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
In fact, a number of normal things — like your baby's position in your uterus, how tall you are, whether you're having twins or multiples, and whether you've been pregnant before — may affect when and how much your pregnancy announces itself.
Shorter women, and those who have short torsos, tend to show pregnancy more because there's less vertical room for their baby to fill.
Also, women who've been pregnant before often start showing earlier than first-time moms. That's because their abdominal muscles have been stretched by their first pregnancy, says Laurie Gregg, an ob-gyn in Sacramento, California.
And, as Macones says, "A baby in a funny position [in the uterus] can make a woman look much bigger."
Your doctor or midwife will use various measurements — not your appearance — to make sure your baby's growth is on track. In your first trimester, she'll do a pelvic exam to assess the size of your growing uterus, or order an ultrasound to see how large your baby is.
Later, around 20 weeks, she'll measure your fundal height — the distance from your pubic bone to the top of your uterus — to estimate your baby's size, growth rate, and position. If you haven't had one yet, an ultrasound will provide even more information about how your baby's growing.
If you truly are measuring larger than normal for your stage of pregnancy, your doctor or midwife will investigate to make sure everything's okay.
First-time moms usually start to notice a bump between 12 and 16 weeks. Most BabyCenter moms say they started looking pregnant between 12 and 18 weeks with their first baby, and anywhere from 6 to 18 weeks with their second and later babies.
Gaining extra weight during pregnancy can make moms-to-be look more pregnant than they really are, although in plus-size women it sometimes take longer for a true "baby bump" to make itself known.
If you're bothered by comments about how "huge" you're getting, take heart. Other moms-to-be are catching flack for not looking pregnant enough.
Plus, as long as your healthcare provider's giving you the okay, it doesn't matter how your belly size appears to the rest of the world.
And fear not — hitting the maternity clothing stores earlier than you expected doesn't mean you're destined to deliver a butterball. Although excessive weight gain during pregnancy has been linked to larger babies, a big baby bump doesn't necessarily mean a big baby.
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