5 Concerns About Your Pregnant Belly

Pregnancy is a time of great joy, but that doesn't mean there aren't plenty of things mom-to-be worries about. One of these is the state of her ever-growing baby bump.

A woman may worry her belly is too big or too small for the week of pregnancy, or if she is carrying high, low, or wide. 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.

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How Will Pregnancy Change My Body?

Everyone Grows Differently

If you're expecting and find yourself fretting about the size or shape of your pregnant belly know you aren't alone. All women carry differently and chances are everything is fine with the way your baby is growing.  

Concerns about pregnant belly

Verywell / Jessica Olah


Carrying Small

You're eating well, exercising, and getting regular prenatal checkups. Yet people frequently say you look small for your gestational age or ask if you're really eating enough.

Like babies, pregnant bellies come in all shapes and sizes. 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 weeks 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.

If your abdominal muscles are really strong and tight they can prevent your growing womb from sticking out as far as casual observers might expect. Tall women's bumps also tend to look smaller than that of a shorter woman whose abdomen measures the exact same size.

The only potential problem associated with a petite pregnancy bump is a condition called oligohydramnios, in which there's too little amniotic fluid. This is something your caregiver would catch at your regular prenatal appointments.


Carrying Large

You 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. 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.

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

"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.

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. Some women simply carry all of their pregnancies this way from start to finish—particularly those who have super strong abdominal muscles. And despite old wive's tales, how you carry the baby isn't a true indicator that you're having a boy or girl


Carrying Low

Carrying low can be uncomfortable. Some expectant moms are built to carry low. In 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. 

Toward the end of your pregnancy, you may notice that you're 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 you notice an overnight drop in your bump before the 37-week mark, talk to your practitioner, as it could indicate your body is getting ready for labor.

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


Carrying Wide

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 cesarean 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.

Women with a lower weight at conception should gain between 15 and 25 pounds over the course of the pregnancy. Women with a higher weight at conception should only gain 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. 

2 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Mcfadzen M, Dielentheis DP, Kasten R, Singh M, Grundle J. Maternal intuition of fetal gender. J Patient Cent Res Rev. 2017;4(3):125-130. doi:10.17294/2330-0698.1454

  2. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Weight gain during pregnancy. Last reviewed on January 17, 2019.

Additional Reading

By Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH
Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH is a professor, author, childbirth and postpartum educator, certified doula, and lactation counselor.