What the Pregnancy bump really reveals

Kate Middleton had a small bump due to her athletic body.

Kate Middleton had a small bump due to her athletic body.

Published Jul 5, 2016


Forget about the myths - we now know what the size and shape of the pregnancy bump really reveals about mum and baby.

Neat and very petite, big and blooming, pear-shaped, sitting high or swinging low — baby bumps come in all shapes and sizes.

So why do expectant mothers look so very different, even at the same stage in their pregnancy? And what does the shape of their bump mean?

The Duchess of Cambridge, displayed a very petite bump — even though it was her second baby — and she has her athletic physique to thank.

If you believe the old wives’ tales, a neat bump that sits high on the stomach means you’re having a boy, while a low, rounded bump that spreads over the waist and hips is a girl.

But experts say this is nonsense — a bump tells you far more about the woman than the weight or gender of her child.

‘Babies vary in shape and size, but nowhere near as enormously as bumps do,’ explains Sarah Fox, policy adviser at the Royal College of Midwives. ‘The bump of a 10lb baby can look smaller than that of a 6lb baby, depending on the shape of the mother’s body.’

So what exactly can you tell about a woman from her bump?

Short women often appear to have larger, more protruding bumps than taller women. This isn’t due to the size of her unborn child, but rather the length of her torso.

A short torso means there is less room for the uterus to grow upwards between the pelvis and the ribs, so it has no option but to expand outwards as the baby grows. In a woman with a longer torso, the uterus stays narrow and the bump looks smaller.

There is simply less room for the bump to grow if you are short in stature,. It seems to hang out more and show earlier in the pregnancy. Shorter women carry the weight around their hips and bottom, while taller women carry their baby more to the front.

PARENTAL build is often linked to a baby’s birth weight, and many women think it accounts for their bump’s shape and size.

Tall parents are likely to have taller babies, so there is some genetics there.

BEING noticeably over- or under-weight can have a bearing. If her BMI is less than 18.5 or over 30, a pregnant woman is at risk of complications such as high blood pressure.

Some women gorge on food, putting on lots of weight around their thighs and middles. As they get physically bigger, so does their bump, which can contain a lot of fat.

TESTS show a woman’s bump is significantly smaller for her first baby than later pregnancies. This is down to pregnancy hormones and abdominal muscles.

As soon as a woman gets pregnant, her levels of the female hormone progesterone increase. This, in turn, causes bloating and may make the stomach swell long before the womb has increased in size. This happens more quickly in second and third pregnancies.

A swelling uterus also causes abdominal muscles and ligaments to stretch, and though these constrict again after the birth, they’re left permanently loose. This means they’re more elastic the second time around.

If a woman is in peak physical condition — with a toned, taut tummy and pronounced abs — this stops her bump from sticking out.

Fitter women carry the bump higher and closer than women who are less fit. If your muscles are more lax, the bump can appear lower and broader.

The shape and size of a bump isn’t something carried across generations — but there are reasons it might look the same. A woman often has the same build and figure as her mother, and her lifestyle may be similar, so there’s a reason their bodies change in the same way.

Experts say a woman’s bump will be markedly bigger for multiple births — but not double or triple the size, as might be expected. Nor can onlookers tell how many she’s carrying.

Angela Cook says this is because the size of the bump is affected by several factors.

‘Twins may each have their own placenta, as well as their own sac and amniotic fluid — so that could account for it being bigger,’ she says.

Instead of a conventional watermelon or ‘D’-shaped baby bump, some women end up with a pear or a ‘B’.

Midwifery expert Sarah Fox says it’s all to do with the position of the baby.

‘Usually, the baby is curled up in a foetal position with its head down, its back towards the woman’s belly button and its legs and arms tucked inside,’ she explains. When you look at the bump, you see a very smooth, round curve.

‘Around a third of babies are positioned so their spine is next to the mother’s spine — known as being “back-to-back”. Their legs and arms face outwards.

‘The bump won’t look lumpy, but it will be a little less smooth.’ This, she adds, will be temporary: babies turn from side to side as often as every day, so the B-shape will come and go.

Daily Mail

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