When Do Plus-Size Moms Start to Show?


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You’ve just found out you’re going to give birth to a bundle of joy. Congratulations! You can’t wait until your baby bump appears so you can begin showing it off to all your family and friends. As a plus-size woman, when will you see your bump?

Plus-size women may start to show anywhere from 16 to 24 weeks of their pregnancy, depending on their weight and shape. Those women who are more bottom-heavy–such as pear-shaped or apple-shaped women–may take longer to be noticeably pregnant.

If you have yet more questions about being a pregnant plus-size woman, we’re here to answer them. Ahead, we’ll discuss if plus-size women have visible baby bumps sooner or later than smaller women, as well as how your body may change during pregnancy. Make sure you keep reading! 

What Size Do Plus-Size Moms Begin Showing?

You still remember how excited you were to get that positive pregnancy test. At that moment, you knew that you and your partner’s lives would be forever changed, but in the best way possible. 

Whether you got pregnant easily or you struggled for a while, you’re doing all you can from this point forward to be a picture of health for your growing baby. When exactly will your baby develop to the point where you have a baby bump?

That depends on your weight and your shape. 

For some larger plus-size women never have a defined baby bump. Others do but at the very end of their pregnancy. The weight you start at before pregnancy is an important factor in determining when you’ll show the weight you gain when you’re pregnant, which we’ll talk about a little later in this article.

What about your shape? We’ve written a lot about women’s body shapes on the blog recently, but we’ll provide a refresher here if you’ve missed those posts. 

Depending on how a woman’s weight is distributed, she has a different shape. The hourglass shape is slimmer in the middle and wider at the hips, breasts, and shoulders. The rectangular body shape is boxy and narrow, while the inverted triangle is wider up top and slimmer at the bottom half of the body.

For plus-size women whose shapes are more slightly more bottom-heavy than top-heavy, you may notice your baby bump appear anywhere from 16 to 20 weeks into your pregnancy. 

What about if you’re more significantly bottom-heavy, such as a round body shape, also known as an apple shape? Since your body weight is already so widely distributed across the lower half of your body, it’s going to take you longer to show. You may have to wait 20 weeks for a baby bump, sometimes as long as 24 weeks. 

If you’d like some week-to-month conversions, we’ve got ‘em. At 16 weeks, you’d have been pregnant for a little over three and a half months. Twenty weeks is five months into your pregnancy, and 24 weeks is five and a half months.   

Do Plus-Size Women Show Sooner Than Smaller Women or Later?

It’s good to know when you can expect your baby bump to appear, as your family and friends and even your coworkers have been pestering you about it for weeks. You’re also curious if your bump shows sooner or later as a plus-size woman than smaller women would?

The answer is your bump will appear more gradually. The less you weigh, the more obvious it is when your stomach begins swelling even a little bit. Even still, it’s not like smaller women get pregnant and begin showing immediately. It takes anywhere from 12 to 16 weeks, sometimes even 18 weeks, before their baby bump appears.

At 12 weeks, a woman is almost three months into her pregnancy. Remember that a plus-size woman’s baby bump might appear at around the three-and-a-half-month mark, so that isn’t so much longer to wait! 

Eighteen weeks is approximately 4.14 months, so really, smaller women aren’t seeing their baby bumps all that much sooner than a plus-size woman would. 

Does Your Waist Get Bigger When Pregnant?

When most women think of getting pregnant, they focus more on how their stomachs will change, but that’s not the only part of you that will grow. Your waist has to accommodate for your increasing abdomen, so it too becomes larger. 

This kind of growth has an official name: maternal growth. Although it’s a good idea to watch your weight when pregnant, you need maternal growth to occur so you can carry the baby to term and give birth.

How much your waist will grow as you get more and more pregnant is dependent on a few factors. One of these is how much you weighed before you got pregnant, and the other factor is your pre-baby height.

Wait, pre-baby height? Can your height change while you’re pregnant or something? Actually, it does! You grow in very, very small increments when pregnant, which is referred to as fundal height. Each week of your pregnancy, fundal height occurs at a rate of 0.39 inches. Fundal height is also centralized around your uterus, from the top of it to your pubic bone.

Anyway, getting back to waist growth, a few other factors that can determine how big your waist will get when pregnant is the number of babies you’re pregnant with, where the baby is positioned, and if you’re a first-time mother or giving birth for a second, third, etc. time. 

Your waist could expand at the same rate that fundal height occurs, which is 0.38 inches a week. From the 20th week of your pregnancy–which is when your doctor will check your fundal height and other maternal growth–until the 40th week of your pregnancy, your hips might grow by 8 inches.

That would certainly mean going up by quite a few pants sizes when you begin shopping for your post-pregnancy wardrobe. Your new curves would undoubtedly look great on your already voluptuous frame! 

Will You Gain Weight When Pregnant? How Much?

If the above section didn’t prove it, your body is in for some changes during pregnancy, whether you’re a smaller woman or plus size. Growing a baby requires you to increase calories consumed, but how many pounds might you expect to pack on before the baby comes out?

Well, that all depends on your eating and exercising habits. Exercising when pregnant is not always easy, and at the end of your pregnancy, it might not even be possible. That means your diet is the primary factor that will influence your weight gain throughout your pregnancy.

Most women gain anywhere between 2 and 4 pounds from the start of their pregnancy until about three months in. Then, for every week of the pregnancy until you give birth, you may add on about a pound a week. 

Pregnancy lasts for 40 weeks. If you take the first three months of pregnancy, which is 13 weeks, and subtract that by 40, you get 27 weeks. At a pound a week for 27 weeks, you could gain 29 to 30 pounds during pregnancy.

That’s only if you’re carrying one baby, by the way. Women who have twins will gain around 35 pounds, maybe as much as 45 pounds, during pregnancy. If you crunch some numbers, you will calculate that these women would gain weight at a rate of 1.5 pounds per week after the first three-month stretch of pregnancy. 

All the weight gain from pregnancy isn’t just the baby, by the way. Only about 8 pounds is the baby itself. Your larger uterus is anywhere from 2 to 5 pounds, the weight of your blood supply is 4 pounds, your breast tissue is 2 to 3 pounds, amniotic fluid also 2 to 3 pounds, the placenta is up to 3 pounds, and the stored fat for breastfeeding is between 5 and 9 pounds. 

Is Being Pregnant as a Plus-Size Woman Safe?

You’ve heard that it’s good to lose weight ahead of a pregnancy, but what if you got pregnant without intending to? Are you at a higher risk of pregnancy complications as a plus-size woman? Yes, so it’s important to talk to your doctor about the following issues.

More Intense Pain

No pregnancy is without its aches and pains, but you’d say that yours are more intense than any of your girlfriends who have already had children. While it’s always a good idea to get checked out by a doctor, it’s more than likely that the extra weight on top of your already curvy figure is going to make your back and other parts of your body sorer. 

Preeclampsia

A pregnancy condition called preeclampsia or toxemia causes a woman’s blood pressure to skyrocket. Before developing preeclampsia, her blood pressure is usually normal or only slightly elevated. 

The risk for preeclampsia goes up once you’re at the 20-week mark, which is about midway through your pregnancy. Women with preeclampsia can be asymptomatic or experience symptoms that altogether don’t seem very concerning. For example, some preeclampsia symptoms include weight gain, swelling, nausea, headache, blurry vision, and fatigue. 

These are all normal pregnancy symptoms, so the only giveaway is the very high blood pressure.

According to this study from 2011 in the journal Pregnancy Hypertension, you may have a three-times higher risk of developing preeclampsia if you’re a larger size.  

Stillbirth and Miscarriage Risk

Unfortunately, with a higher body mass index or BMI, a woman’s chances of stillbirth and miscarriage risk increase. That doesn’t mean stillbirths and miscarriages don’t affect women of smaller sizes, though. The CDC, per 2020 data, says that 24,000 stillbirths occur in the United States per year.  

Gestational Diabetes 

Another complication of being pregnant as a plus-size woman is gestational diabetes. This form of diabetes only happens among pregnant women. If left unchecked, gestational diabetes can lead to high birth weights for your baby. Giving birth to a larger child could cause injuries, increased pains, and the possible need for surgery.

Like preeclampsia, gestational diabetes often has no symptoms. You have to check your blood sugar regularly throughout your pregnancy to ensure it’s not too high. If you have gestational diabetes, lowering your blood sugar is within your best interest. Women with this form of diabetes are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes post-pregnancy. 

We want to stress that the above pregnancy complications are not exclusive to plus-size women but may happen more often among that group. This does not mean a plus-size woman cannot have a safe, healthy pregnancy. We recommend addressing your health concerns with your doctor early in your pregnancy so you can make good health habits you’ll carry through for the next nine months. 

Conclusion 

As a plus-size woman, you have to wait anywhere from 16 to 24 weeks for your baby bump to show. In almost all cases, you will see the bump sooner or later, so be patient if yours is a little late!

Much more importantly, make sure you’re prioritizing your health throughout your pregnancy so your baby can grow strong. Best of luck!


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