When Does a Woman Start to Show During Pregnancy?

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When does a woman start to show during pregnancy? It's the question every expectant mom wants an answer to, but, unfortunately, there is no firm answer for it. When a woman starts to show during pregnancy depends mainly on individual and variable factors such as the number of previous pregnancies the woman has had, her overall body type and her rate of weight gain during the first trimester.

Average

On average, women start to show around the fourth month of pregnancy, between weeks 14 and 17. By week 17 the uterus usually has expanded to just an inch and a half below the navel, making the pregnancy more obvious. The lower abdomen has expanded to the point that most women begin to wear maternity clothes in the fourth month, or at least switch to larger sizes of regular clothes.

Range

Most women will start to show at some point between weeks 12 and 24 of pregnancy, with most reporting that they began to show during the first half of their second trimester, between 12 and 18 weeks. Women who begin to show earlier than 12 weeks or after 24 weeks should not be alarmed, providing their obstetricians have confirmed that all is well with their pregnancies.

Number of Pregnancies

Another factor the contributes to when a woman starts to show during pregnancy is the number of previous pregnancies she has experienced. Women who are pregnant for the first time often show later than women who have had previous pregnancies. In women who have been pregnant before, the uterine muscles are often less taut from previous stretching and expand more quickly in the early weeks of pregnancy to accommodate the growing baby.

Body Type

Much of the variance involved in when a woman starts to show is dependent upon the woman's normal body type. Thin women often show earlier than heavier women, as the small, early pregnancy bulge is more obvious on a slender frame. Also, shorter women often show before taller women since they have less room in their torso for the expanding uterus.

Weight Gain

The amount of weight gained during the early part of a pregnancy may determine when a woman will start to show. Women that gain over the recommended amount of weight in their first trimester (usually over 5 pounds) often appear to show earlier than women who gain the recommended amount or under, though the extra weight is the cause of the bulkier appearance and not the expanding uterus.

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