baby bump

One of the most consistent parts of your pregnancy is your baby bump – it’s with you every step of the way, and many find comfort in cuddling it and watching it grow. When a small baby bump shows up, it’s an exciting pregnancy milestone.

With this comprehensive week-by-week guide to your baby bump, you’ll learn how your body changes as your pregnancy unfolds.

When Does a Baby Bump Show?

Sometime around week 13 is when your baby bump may start to show. As your first trimester ends and the second trimester begins, your uterus will have increased in size and moved upwards. However, everyone is different and every pregnancy is unique. So, there’s no need to worry if your baby bump makes its debut earlier or later – even before you start to really ‘look pregnant’, there’s still plenty going on inside!

Throughout your pregnancy, you’ll experience normal changes in your body, as well as to your baby bump. Your midwife or doctor is the best person to turn to for personalised advice as you navigate your entire pregnancy journey, but keep reading to get a better sense of what to anticipate as you watch your belly expand.

Early Baby Bump Signs

As your baby bump starts to develop, it’s exciting to follow along! Here are a few early signs that your bump is about to show.

  • The urge to pee. As your uterus expands, it starts to sit on your bladder. In the early stages of your baby bump showing, you may feel the urge to pee more often.

  • Mild back pain. As your uterus grows, it becomes heavier, and pregnancy hormones will start to soften the ligaments in your back, putting a bit more strain on your muscles. As a result, you may experience some pregnancy-related back pain when your baby bump starts to show.

  • A little weight gain. Weight gain is a natural part of pregnancy, even in the first trimester.

In Summary

So, when do you get a baby bump? A baby bump typically starts to show around 13 weeks. Before, or as your bump starts to show, you might notice some pregnancy symptoms related to a growing uterus, such as back pain, weight gain or the urge to pee.

Tracking Your Baby Bump Week by Week

While you're on the lookout for any signs of baby bump growth, your midwife and/or doctor will monitor your progress at your regular antenatal check-ups to make sure that you and your baby are staying healthy. At about 24 weeks pregnant , your midwife or doctor may start measuring fundal height, which is the distance from the pubic bone to the top (fundus) of the uterus, using a measuring tape and/or abdominal palpitations.

Tracking fundal height can be a useful way of assessing your little one’s growth and development. Your midwife may plot the measurement (in centimetres) of your baby bump every two weeks or so on a chart.

fundal height

Next, we’ll outline how your baby bump may grow and how your body might change week by week. You can also check out our pregnancy calendar for more details on the weeks, months and trimesters of pregnancy.

Weeks 1 to 4: The First Moments

You won't spot any baby bump growth within the first weeks of pregnancy. Your midwife will most likely calculate your due date from the start of your last menstrual period, which means that, depending on when you ovulate and when conception occurs, you may not actually be pregnant for the first week or two.

Baby Bump Growth and Pregnancy Symptoms

In weeks 1 to 4 of pregnancy, there won’t be any baby bump growth yet. However, there’s still a lot of important develops happening inside your uterus and body.

  • Early in your pregnancy, your body starts producing more pregnancy hormones , including human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), which peaks at week 9. Your midwife may monitor the levels of this hormone to determine how your pregnancy is going.

  • At this time, pregnancy symptoms might include mood swings, as it takes time to adjust to the rising hormone levels.

  • You may notice implantation bleeding (spotting) after the embryo implants in your uterus.

Weeks 5 to 8: Early Signs of Pregnancy

Maybe your first few weeks of pregnancy went by without much change, but you may start to finally ‘feel’ pregnant during weeks 5 to 8. Around this time, it’s common to experience some typical early pregnancy symptoms like a missed period, sore breasts, fatigue, flu-like symptoms, a metallic taste in your mouth or different emotions, but you probably won't see a baby bump emerge.

Baby Bump Growth and Pregnancy Symptoms

During weeks 5 to 8, you might feel some bloating, but there won’t be any significant baby bump growth yet. Still, your uterus will probably be about the size of a lemon and you’ll likely notice some of those aforementioned pregnancy symptoms.

  • Common pregnancy symptoms during this time include nausea, fatigue, sore breasts and the urge to pee more often.

  • Morning sickness is very typical in early pregnancy. Hang in there – it usually starts to improve by 14 weeks and clears up about half-way through your pregnancy.

  • As your uterus grows, it will start to put pressure on your bladder and might cause you to pee more often.

  • Your blood will increase in volume to support your baby. In fact, throughout your pregnancy, your blood volume will increase by 50 percent!

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Weeks 9 to 12: Your Changing Shape

Although baby bumps tend to start showing around 13 weeks, every pregnancy is different, so it’s possible to see a little belly growth earlier – don’t be shocked if you see a small baby bump start to emerge at 10, 11 or 12 weeks pregnant! You’re more likely to show a bit earlier if this isn’t your first pregnancy.

Tip

Keep an eye on your profile and see if you notice any slight weight gain or growth above your pelvis. It’s common to notice your waist thickening before your baby bump emerges. Make the process a bit more fun by taking a photo of your belly regularly to chart how your baby bump grows week by week!

Baby Bump Growth and Pregnancy Symptoms

As mentioned, you might see some baby bump growth during this stage of your pregnancy, but probably nothing too significant. The biggest change that you may notice is the addition of new pregnancy symptoms.

  • Emotional changes and mood swings in pregnancy tend to accompany a growing baby bump, and it’s very common to feel happy one moment and sad the next during this time in your pregnancy.

  • Vaginal discharge and headaches are also common at this time, both of which are normal. If these symptoms feel painful, excessive or worrisome, talk to your midwife or doctor.

  • Ligaments will start to soften and stretch to accommodate a growing baby bump at about 12 weeks, so you might start to feel a little back pain or pain around your stomach.

Weeks 13 to 16: A Small Baby Bump

At this time during your pregnancy, it’s likely you’ll notice your baby bump starting to show, as your little one is growing quickly and may weigh around 25 grams. Your baby also comes with some extra padding that may add to your bump, such as a growing placenta, amniotic sac and amniotic fluid.

Baby Bump Growth and Pregnancy Symptoms

Chances are, you’ll see baby bump growth in weeks 14, 15 or 16. Another perk that you may experience around this time during your pregnancy is morning sickness and fatigue starting to subside as your hormones calm down.

  • A baby bump develops with your growing uterus as it starts to change position, sitting higher in your abdomen. This upper position is a good indication that your baby bump has arrived!

  • Back pain can also accompany a baby bump, especially since your ligaments will adjust in your lower back. But you might also simply feel more aching due to the extra weight of your uterus and the shift in your centre of gravity.

  • Weight gain is expected during pregnancy and you may start to notice it more at this point. Overall, you might gain between 10 and 13 kilograms during your pregnancy, but everyone is different. Talk to your midwife about healthy pregnancy weight gain and use our pregnancy weight gain calculator below to get a general idea of how much you may gain based on your pre-pregnancy BMI.

Weeks 17 to 20: The Halfway Mark

Your week 17 baby bump might not be much bigger than the past month, but there’s potential for growth as your uterus moves up and out of your pelvis!

Along with reaching the halfway mark, you’ll have the option of what’s called a ‘20-week scan’ sometime between 18 and 21 weeks. This scan is also when you might be able to find out the sex of your baby. However, keep in mind that some hospitals don’t reveal gender predictions, so it’s a good idea to ask your midwife beforehand about your hospital’s policy. If you want to know your little one’s likely sex, tell the sonographer at the beginning of the scan.

Tip

Will your baby bump shape be different with a girl or boy? This is a common question with a simple answer: No, your baby’s sex won’t impact the shape of your baby bump. What can impact the shape is your height, muscles, diet and whether this is your first pregnancy. Additionally, if you’re having multiples, your bump will naturally be bigger.

Baby Bump Growth and Pregnancy Symptoms

Your uterus will expand all the way to your navel, so you’ll likely notice that growing baby bump! On the inside, lots of exciting things are also happening.

  • You may feel a fluttering or rolling sensation in your 18- to 20-week baby bump. If this is your first pregnancy, these feelings tend to happen later, closer to the halfway mark. Although they feel like a fluttering, they’re actually your little one moving around or responding to outside noises like music!

  • Stomach pain or cramping is also common at this stage of pregnancy. As your ligaments continue to stretch for your expanding baby bump, you might feel a sharp pain or cramp. Constipation and wind are also typical reasons for this type of discomfort but contact your midwife if it’s persistent or especially painful.

  • A dark line down the middle of your abdomen might accompany your beautiful 20-week baby bump, which is a normal change in skin pigmentation called linea nigra.

  • Hair loss slows, so you might notice your hair becoming thicker and shinier. If this happens to you, you’ll understand what ‘pregnancy glow’ is all about!

Weeks 21 to 24: Faster Baby Growth

If you didn’t look pregnant before, that’s about to change! As you make your way through the second trimester, you might notice your baby bump expanding quickly, even week by week. During this month in particular, your baby is growing at a faster pace.

Baby Bump Growth and Pregnancy Symptoms

Your bump is likely growing quickly, just like your baby. Gaining weight is normal, of course, but try to stick to a healthy pregnancy diet if you’re feeling hungrier than usual.

  • Stretch marks, if you get them, tend to pop up around 22 or 24 weeks. They’re most common on the breasts, stomach and thighs.

  • Some additional pregnancy symptoms may show up at this time. It’s common to experience skin issues, haemorrhoids, thrush or leaky breasts.

  • Sleeping while pregnant can be a challenge, especially as your baby bump grows bigger.

Tip

Consider purchasing a maternity pillow to help you sleep and relieve back pain. As they curve around your body, these pillows help support you and your expanding bump

Weeks 25 to 28: Rapid Growth

You’re edging closer to the final stretch of your pregnancy! Your baby is developing rapidly at this point, and by the end of 28 weeks, your little one will be in full form. With all this growth comes some body changes for you, too.

Baby Bump Growth and Pregnancy Symptoms

The extra size and weight of your growing baby bump may cause a few common pregnancy aches and pains. During this time, it’s important to rest regularly. Also, at 28 weeks, you’ll officially be in your third trimester!

  • Swelling in your hands and feet often happens due to water retention. Get lots of rest and elevate your feet when you can but notify your midwife if you experience any swelling, as your midwife or doctor might want to monitor you for symptoms of pre-eclampsia.

  • Your pelvic floor might weaken, which can result in the occasional accidental pee when laughing or coughing – don’t worry, it’s common! Try some pelvic floor exercises to help strengthen this muscle group.

  • Pregnancy hormones and an expanding uterus pressing on your stomach may continue to cause other new symptoms, such as nosebleeds, heartburn or acid reflux. These are normal and easily managed at home.

If you haven’t already, now is the time to tell your employer about your pregnancy, especially if you plan to accept maternity pay and benefits. Your partner may also be entitled to receive benefits.

Weeks 29 to 32: Moving on Up

Your due date is inching closer, which makes this month quite exciting for you and your baby bump. If you’re tracking your baby bump on a chart week by week, you’ll probably notice it expanding and putting more pressure here and there. Your baby and your bump will both go through one final growth spurt at this time.

Baby Bump Growth and Pregnancy Symptoms

Your uterus continues to get bigger this month, moving your baby bump up a bit. As your uterus sits toward the bottom of your rib cage on your lungs, you may feel a bit more breathless than usual. You might also feel a bit uncoordinated as you get used to the position and weight of your growing baby bump!

  • Swollen ankles and leg cramps might join your swollen feet and hands. Remember to consult your doctor if you experience any swelling while pregnant.

  • The urge to pee might take over, as your baby bump grows and presses on your bladder. This can also add to trouble sleeping at night.

  • Itchy skin is quite common during pregnancy, but the need to scratch might intensify now. Try applying a soothing moisturiser to help.

  • Exercising during pregnancy may help aid in labour, help you maintain a healthy pregnancy weight and manage typical aches and pains that you might experience during this month. Don’t be surprised if you start gaining about one pound per week at this time in your pregnancy!

Weeks 33 to 36: Prepping for Labour

As you near the end of your pregnancy, your body might start preparing for labour by ‘practising’ with Braxton Hicks contractions. It’s possible to feel this ‘false labour’ earlier in your pregnancy, but rest assured that they aren’t actual contractions. Rather, you’ll probably feel a tightening sensation that doesn’t occur at regular or increasing intervals like contractions do. And although they may feel uncomfortable, Braxton Hicks shouldn’t be painful (talk to your midwife or doctor if they cause you pain).

Baby Bump Growth and Pregnancy Symptoms

At this time in your pregnancy, your baby bump is on full display. If you’re having multiples, you can expect a larger baby bump as you near labour.

  • Heartburn and acid reflux may be in full force, thanks to hormonal changes and the position of your baby bump. Talk to your GP or midwife about adjusting your pregnancy diet, which could help relieve these symptoms.

  • Baby movements are common up until giving birth, so continue to enjoy those little flutters! If you notice any change in your baby’s movement patterns, call your midwife or doctor straight away in case your little one needs to be checked.

  • ‘Lightening’ can occur as early as 34 weeks, which is when your baby ‘drops’ into the ideal birthing position (head down). If this happens to you, some symptoms like breathlessness or heartburn might ease up a bit. (Keep in mind that not everyone experiences this sensation during their pregnancy, and that’s OK! Not all babies get into that ideal birthing position, and your midwife or doctor can discuss what steps to take if your little one is breech or positioned sideways in your uterus.)

  • Braxton Hicks contractions are common at this point in pregnancy, but it’s important to pay attention to how long they last. If these contraction-like feelings come every 5 minutes and last at least 60 seconds, call your doctor or midwife, as it may be a sign that labour is happening or on its way.

Weeks 37 to 40: Almost There

Passing 37 weeks is the official mark of a ‘full-term’ pregnancy, though your foetus is considered ‘viable’ (can survive outside the womb) at 24 weeks. If your baby hasn’t already, they may ‘drop’ into the birthing position mentioned above. This position is known as ‘lightening,’ though your doctor may refer to it as ‘engaged.’

Baby Bump Growth and Pregnancy Symptoms

Labour usually starts sometime between 38 and 42 weeks, which means your baby bump is at its fullest! Though, keep in mind that multiples usually arrive a bit earlier and rarely go beyond 38 weeks. Since your baby is ready to be born and full-term, your baby bump might not expand anymore, even if you’re overdue.

  • Labour may start at any moment, even though most midwives and doctors measure pregnancy as 40 weeks. It’s common for labour to start before or after that, but if you go overdue, your doctor may discuss options for inducing labour.

  • Pre-eclampsia is a serious condition that increases in risk as you get closer to labour. Your doctor or midwife will keep an eye out for common signs, such as a rise in blood pressure, swelling, headaches and pain below the ribs.

  • Are you ready for hospital? Now is a good time to double check your hospital bag or start preparing if you haven’t already. See our hospital bag checklist below.

Tip

It may help to know the signs of labour so you can call your midwife or go to hospital if needed. Typical signs of labour include the following:

  • Contractions or tightening in your pelvic muscles
  • Losing your mucus plug (also known as a ‘show’)
  • An unusual backache
  • A sudden and unexpected urge to go to the toilet, as your baby's head is pressing on your bowel
  • Your waters breaking.

FAQs at a Glance

  • Your baby bump may be visible at the beginning or in the middle of the second trimester, though pregnancy is different for everyone. If yours appears earlier or later, that’s normal!

  • At around 13 weeks pregnant, look for a slightly protruding bump above your pelvis. Baby bumps are different for everyone, but because your uterus grows up, a pregnancy bump usually sits higher than any weight that develops around your middle due to pregnancy.

  • No, you’re not likely to see a baby bump in your first month (or even first trimester) of pregnancy.

The Bottom Line

Tracking your baby bump by week can be an exciting part of your pregnancy journey. Using a week-by-week baby bump chart (or taking a weekly photo) and knowing when your baby bump might show does make the process a bit more fun!

In the end, the exciting and expanding journey is worth it. Before you know it, you’ll be cuddling your sweet little newborn and looking back on all those baby bump pictures!

How We Wrote This Article
The information in this article is based on the expert advice found in trusted medical and government sources, such as the National Health Service (NHS). You can find a full list of sources used for this article below. The content on this page should not replace professional medical advice. Always consult medical professionals for full diagnosis and treatment.