Concerns About Your Pregnant Belly

No matter how you carry your baby, chances are everything is perfectly normal

Pregnancy is a time of great joy, but that doesn't mean there aren't plenty of things a mom-to-be doesn't worry about. One of these is the state of her ever-growing baby bump. Is her belly too big for the week of pregnancy she's in? Too small? Does carrying high or low or wide indicate a problem? After all, she can't see inside her womb so the only clues she has on a day-to-day basis about her growing baby are what she can see and feel. If you're expecting and find yourself fretting about the size or shape of your pregnant belly, or have other concerns about it, read on. You'll discover that you aren't alone and, better yet, the chances are excellent there's nothing at all wrong with the way your baby is growing.  


Carrying Small

A small pregnant belly
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You're eating well. You're exercising. You're having regular prenatal checkups. Yet people frequently say you look small for your gestational age or ask if you're really eating enough. So despite your obstetrician or midwife's reassurances that your baby is growing just fine, you still feel uneasy about your petite pregnancy. 

Like babies, the bellies they develop in come in all sizes. Don't forget that your doctor or midwife is monitoring your child's size in relation to your due date and the size of your pregnant belly with regular screenings, including measuring your abdomen at every visit once you reach 15 to 20 weeks. This measurement tells them how much your belly is growing. (The normal rate of growth once a woman starts showing is about 1 centimeter per week.)

Note too that if your abdominal muscles are really strong and tight they literally can prevent your growing womb from sticking out as far as casual observers might expect. And if you're tall, your belly is likely to look smaller than that of a shorter woman whose abdomen measures exactly the same as yours.

The only potential problem associated with carrying small is a condition called oligohydramnios, in which there's too little amniotic fluid. But this is just the sort of thing your caregiver would catch at your regular prenatal appointments so unless you've been skipping those you and the perfectly normal baby growing in your smallish belly are just fine. 


Carrying Large

A big pregnant belly
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So your belly looks kind of big. Well—there is a child growing in there. Maybe there even are two, or three. Multiples definitely will take up more belly room than singletons. But you also may seem to be carrying big because of the way your baby is positioned in your womb or even how you're built. A pregnant belly can look huge on a tiny woman.

If this isn't your first pregnancy, it's possible you noticed you "popped" much earlier than you did during your first, and that you seem to be growing apace. That's because after one pregnancy your muscles have stretched a bit and will give in to the pressure of your expanding uterus more easily.

Again, your doctor or midwife is measuring and monitoring the size of your belly at every prenatal visit. In rare cases, a large belly is due to excess amniotic fluid (polyhydramnios), a condition the caregiver will catch in time to treat you for it.


Carrying High

A high pregnant belly
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"You look like you swallowed a basketball!" This is a common comment made about women who appear to be carrying their babies up front and up high. And in fact, that's exactly what's going on. It's not at all uncommon for babies to settle themselves into the womb in this way, especially during the first two-thirds of pregnancy. And some women simply carry all of their pregnancies this way from start to finish—particularly those who have super strong abdominal muscles. It's nothing to worry about but certainly ask your OB or midwife if you're really concerned. Note too that despite the many old wive's tales around the appearance of a woman's pregnancy and the sex of her baby, how you're carrying isn't an indicator that you're having a boy or girl. 


Carrying Low

A low baby belly
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Carrying low can be uncomfortable for sure. Some expectant moms are built to carry low or it's a second or third pregnancy and the muscles and ligaments that support the growing womb are a stretched and weakened, and can't hold up the growing womb as well as before. 

Towards the very end of your pregnancy, you may notice that you're seem to be carrying lower than before almost overnight. This is probably because your baby has dropped or lightened in preparation for being born. (Not all babies do this; some don't drop until labor starts.) If this happens before you hit 37 weeks, bring it up with your practitioner, as it could mean you may go into preterm labor. 

The biggest problem with carrying low is that it can put pressure on your lower back. Exercises like pelvic tilts can help ease discomfort.  pain it causes on your lower back. 


Carrying Wide

A wide pregnant belly
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A wide belly may mean your baby is in a transverse lie, meaning positioned from side to side rather than with his head up or down. Your caregiver will be able to feel if this is the case. It usually isn't a problem unless the baby doesn't flip into a head-down position in time to be born, in which case you may need a caesarean section. 

If you were overweight when you got pregnant, you may also feel like you are carrying more side-to-side than other pregnant women. f your body mass index was between 25 and 29 when you conceived, you should gain between 15 and 25 pounds over the course of your entire pregnancy. If it was over 30, you shouldn't put on more than 11 to 20 pounds. Follow your doctor's or midwife's instructions for eating healthfully and in just the right amounts as your pregnancy progresses and you and your baby should be just fine. 

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