When will my pregnancy start to show?

A pregnant woman sitting on the couch looking at a sonogram and the BabyCenter app.
Photo credit: Katie Rain for BabyCenter

If it's your first pregnancy, or even if it isn't, you may be wondering when your bloated belly will turn into a baby bump, and your pregnancy will start to show. The short answer: It can be different for everyone, for a number of reasons.

When do you start showing in pregnancy?

First-time moms usually start showing sometime between 12 and 18 weeks. In a BabyCenter poll, most women expecting their first child said they started to show between 12 and 18 weeks, very closely followed by those who said that their bump emerged between 18 and 24 weeks.

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Every woman and every baby bump is different, and there isn't an exact time when you'll start "showing," which is what happens when your growing uterus begins to expand above the pubic bone. This usually starts when you're around 12 weeks pregnant; before then, the uterus remains within the pelvis and isn't usually visible.

Even at 12 weeks of pregnancy, any “bump” you start to see in your abdomen is really just your bowels that used to be in your pelvis, now being pushed up higher in your belly. "Showing" starts as your abdomen looks fuller and you find yourself needing to unbutton your pants by the end of the day. From there, a distinctly uterus-shaped bump will appear in another few weeks or so.

Several factors play a part in how and when you start showing:

  • Your body shape and size. Shorter women may start showing earlier than tall women, and thinner women may see a distinct baby bump before plus-size women do.
  • Your core muscles. Women with weak core muscles may start showing earlier than those with a stronger core.
  • The position of your uterus.
  • Whether not this is your first pregnancy. Moms who've already been pregnant often start showing with their second pregnancy sooner, since their uterine and abdominal muscles have been stretched from an earlier pregnancy.

Sometimes, you might think you're already showing early on in the first trimester, but it's more than likely just pregnancy bloating, a swelling that can make your pants fit tighter. Bloating is one of the early signs of pregnancy, along with gas and constipation.


Should I be worried if I haven't started showing yet?

If you haven't started showing and feel like you don't look pregnant yet, don't fret. There are a number of completely normal factors that may be contributing to how pregnant you look. Showing late doesn't automatically mean that your baby is too small. In the second trimester, your ob-gyn or midwife will start monitoring your fundal height to track your baby's growth, and if there's any reason for concern, they'll do an ultrasound to check on the progress. Babies who are smaller than expected for their gestational age will get frequent monitoring to make sure they're doing well.

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BabyCenter's editorial team is committed to providing the most helpful and trustworthy pregnancy and parenting information in the world. When creating and updating content, we rely on credible sources: respected health organizations, professional groups of doctors and other experts, and published studies in peer-reviewed journals. We believe you should always know the source of the information you're seeing. Learn more about our editorial and medical review policies.

American Academy of Family Physicians. 2021. Changes in your body during pregnancy: First trimester. a new window [Accessed November 2021]

American Academy of Family Physicians. 2021. Changes in your body during pregnancy: Second trimester. a new window [Accessed November 2021]

Office on Women's Health. 2019. Stages of pregnancy. a new window [Accessed November 2021]

Stanford Children's Hospital. Undated. Small for gestational age. a new window [Accessed November 2021]

UpToDate. 2015. Prenatal assessment of gestational age and estimated date of delivery. a new window [Accessed November 2021]

Amy Cassell
Amy Cassell was a senior editor at BabyCenter, the world's number one digital parenting resource, where she wrote and edited wellness and lifestyle content about pregnancy and parenting. She lives in Seattle with her husband and daughter – and when she's not writing, you’ll likely find her exploring with her family, at a brewery with friends, or on the couch with a book.