When Do You Start Showing in Pregnancy?

Women admiring friends pregnant belly.
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When you find out you are pregnant, one of the questions at the top of your mind is likely to be when you will start showing. You might be excited about being pregnant and be looking forward to the changes it will make to your body.

On the other hand, you might be apprehensive about gaining weight and having a pregnant shape, or having your condition be apparent to others. Either way, you'll want to know when to anticipate this milestone of pregnancy.

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How Will Pregnancy Change My Body?

First Signs

Each pregnant person will start to show (or look pregnant) at a different time. And the point at which someone shows can vary from one pregnancy to the next.

Some people will notice changes in their abdomen as early as the end of the first trimester. For others, the changing shape of their belly won't be noticeable until later.

  • A "baby bump" most commonly appears from weeks 12 to 16 of pregnancy.
  • If it is not your first pregnancy, you will likely start showing sooner than you did during your first pregnancy.
  • Some people do not appear noticeably pregnant until they are well into the third trimester.

You might be vigilant about looking for changes early in your pregnancy. You might feel that you look more pregnant at the end of the day (after you've had dinner and your abdominal muscles are relaxed).

If you experience bloating or constipation that you did not have before you become pregnant, this can also contribute to the changing size and shape of your belly.

Generally, your uterus won't expand above your pelvis enough to cause a visible bump until the second trimester of pregnancy.

Changes during the first trimester probably won't be enough to warrant maternity clothes just yet. However, it depends on what you already have in your wardrobe. You might choose clothes that you already have that are comfortable and fit your changing shape.

When you reach the second trimester of pregnancy, the changes might be enough that you decide to start shopping for maternity clothes that are a better fit for your body's needs.

When People Start Showing

"Showing" during pregnancy occurs at different intervals for people. It can be hard not to compare pregnant bellies, but it's best to avoid comparing your pregnancy to someone else's.

While it is not an exhaustive list, these are a few reasons that will influence when a pregnant person will start showing.

  • Having prior pregnancies
  • History of abdominal surgery
  • How many babies you're carrying 
  • Your baby's position
  • Your body type and weight

A person who has been pregnant before will likely show more quickly in the second pregnancy (and subsequent pregnancies) compared to someone who is pregnant for the first time.

Your pregnancy weight gain will also alter your body's shape. You will want to take your pre-pregnancy weight status (slim, average, or overweight) into account when trying to predict when you will start to show. If you have a very slim build, a baby bump might be more obvious. If you were overweight or obese before you become pregnant, you might be worried that you won't show at all.

Many pregnant people feel the need to be out of regular clothes and into maternity clothes (or at the very least, larger, looser-fitting clothes) by the fourth or fifth month of pregnancy.

In addition to an expanding belly, the changes to your breasts during pregnancy will affect how your bra fits.

A Word From Verywell

Changes to your shape during pregnancy are natural. It's recommended that you track your weight gain at the beginning and continue to do so regularly throughout your pregnancy. Your doctor can help you get a sense of how much weight you need to gain and give you advice on the healthiest way to do so.

Even beyond your pregnancy weight gain, there are other reasons diet and physical activity are important for an overall healthy pregnancy. Eating a balanced diet helps ensure that you are nourished and getting as much exercise as your doctor says is OK for you is good for your body and mind.

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