When I was pregnant, I never thought about this. But recently, one of my dear friends has been pregnant for the first time, and she asked me why her baby bump is bigger at night.
I did some digging, and apparently, many women feel like their stomach is shrinking during pregnancy. There are a lot of variables, so even at 9 months pregnant, your belly looks smaller sometimes.
If your pregnant belly looks smaller than last week, read on to find out why that’s happening.
Why does my pregnant belly seem smaller in the morning?
Your pregnant belly may feel harder on some days, or you may have a small belly during pregnancy. Whatever the case, you should know that your bump will fluctuate in size sometimes. You’ll notice the biggest belly growth somewhere around 12 to 16 weeks, sooner if it’s not your first rodeo.
But even for established mamas with more than one kid, you may wonder why your pregnant belly looks bigger at night. Here’s why!
It’s not your first time
Moms that have been down this road before will have already stretched out their abdominals. Not only will you show up sooner, but you’ll also see that bump looking bigger at the end of the day. That’s because your muscles are stretching all day long. After proper rest, they will usually be tighter in the morning, making your baby bump look smaller.
When I told my friend this, she seemed so relieved. It apparently concerns many new mamas, though I seriously don’t remember it happening to me. I remember feeling my belly for those kicks and knowing that my eldest was doing ok that way.
You’ve likely noticed your body bloated and swollen during pregnancy. This also happens to your belly and can dissipate by morning. What you eat and drink can also lead to more gassiness and bloating throughout the day, culminating in the evening to some discomfort. Once that gas and bloating subsides, it may make that baby bump look smaller in the morning.
With my eldest, my bump was huge at 20 weeks. I was so proud of that round, hard bump. But I did put on a lot of weight, likely because my husband wanted to cheer me up with treats since I was fairly new to his country.
Baby has moved to a new position
As your baby grows, she’s changing positions, flipping around this way and that. Those acrobatics can make your belly look bigger or smaller depending on how she’s positioned herself.
For example, if she turns horizontally in there (known as the transverse position), then your bump will look wider. Babies that have their back to your back will make a lumpier bump. And for those that put their backs to the front of the bump, it’s going to have a smoother look.
You may even get lucky and see something very cool like I did. Since I was a healthier weight for my second baby, we all got to see her take her foot along the front of my stomach. You could see the outline of the foot! It was amazing!
It’s also proof that babies don’t just sit in there. They move around a lot, and toward the end, it’s more of a squirm since the real estate in your uterus gets smaller.
You need to eat
When you eat and what you eat can also affect how big or small your bump appears daily. After a big dinner, your belly may look enormous. But by morning, when you’re hungry again and haven’t eaten, it can look small again.
I remember feeling soooooo hungry every morning. I loved having wheat toast with jam though I would try to restrain myself and make healthier choices most of the time, especially with baby #2.
Tighter belly muscles in the morning
As your stomach muscles relax and release throughout the day, they stretch more and make the bump look bigger. Sleep time is when your stomach muscles replenish, which is why your belly may appear smaller than last night. Yes, that 9 months pregnant belly can look smaller too!
How can I prevent my belly from getting bigger during pregnancy?
If you’re worried about the size of your baby bump, the best thing you can do is discuss it with your doctor. He or she will tell you if you’re on the right track and if all is going well.
You can also do a few things as you venture into your pregnancy to keep your bump at a healthy size.
Try to be a healthy weight first
Over half of all American women are overweight or obese when they first get pregnant. If possible, try to be at the right weight before getting pregnant. This will reduce complications for you later on. Also, it will keep your health on track, and you need that so your baby can be healthy.
I realize this isn’t always possible, so don’t fret if you are newly pregnant and you’re a bit overweight. Just take steps to be healthy and active (pending what your doctor says) to create more balance.
If you’re unsure about a fat and pregnant belly, here’s how to tell the difference.
Balance your meals
With each trimester, you need to consume more calories. No, that doesn’t mean you can eat an extra pint of ice cream. Choosing nourishing, wholesome foods is the way to go. You may find that having smaller, more frequent meals filled with protein, good fats, and complex carbs makes you feel more sustained.
Even if you can’t stand to eat that often, make sure you’re balancing your meals out with healthy foods. And yes, you can still enjoy some of those naughty cravings, but make most of what you eat all about proper nutrition. Fiber-rich foods will keep you feeling fuller while helping you have easy bowel movements.
Basically, you just want to get a wide spectrum of healthy nutrients. Yes, even if you’re taking those prenatal vitamins, it’s essential to have real and nutritious foods. When you do, you will be well-poised to indulge in those random donut cravings.
Along with that last point, drink your water. Pregnant women need to drink 64 to 96 ounces of water each day. It will help if you drink even more than when doing activities. The best way to tell if you need more water is to watch the color of your urine. Dark yellow or cloudy color indicates that you should drink more fluids.
Be smart about cravings
You may only be pregnant once in your lifetime, so the window to enjoy those cravings is small. You should enjoy being pregnant, but to balance things out, try putting something healthy with an unhealthy craving, like having a salad with a side of fries.
If you were active before getting pregnant, it’s always wise to ask your doctor if it’s safe to continue your activities. Simply walking daily is a gentle yet effective way to manage weight for most women. Almost every woman can go walking unless there are complications.
And if you’re already busy, the steps you take at the supermarket, down the driveway to fetch the mail, and up and down your stairs all count. Just be careful the further along you get. Your balance will be off, and you’ll be more prone to falling.
Movement does something else for you too. It keeps you from having aches and pains toward the end of pregnancy. And in those final days, it can help put you in labor when it’s time, like with curb walking (which I talked about recently).
Does bump size indicate baby size?
Nope! Bump size is no indication of how big your baby is. So if your bump looks huge, just remember that baby is likely not taking up all of that. Ask your doctor, and they can reassure you that this is simply not the case.
Bump size can vary, as you see from what I mentioned above. Your bump may look huge because of how the baby has turned around, somersaulting in your uterus, or because you ate a big meal and combined with the baby in that belly, it looks larger. Some women with small bumps produce big babies. You just can’t tell by looking at a baby bump how big a baby will be.
When to worry about pregnancy bump size?
Honestly, pregnancy is anxiety-inducing sometimes. You can worry yourself sick about what’s normal and what’s not. In the end, what your doctor says is what’s most important. If you are ever concerned at all, contact your doctor right away.
And if you don’t want to be a nervous Nelly, then there are a few things to watch for so you don’t hit your doctor on speed dial every five minutes.
After a big dinner and going poop, you may see a big belly get smaller, especially in the morning. Generally, bumps get bigger as the day wears on. However, if your bump starts getting smaller no matter the time of day and it seems to be steadily declining, this concern should warrant contacting your doctor immediately.
What will happen?
They’ll have you come in and measure your belly and do an ultrasound. This way, they can see how the baby is growing and make sure everything is OK.
In my second pregnancy, my doctor advised me to drink more water. I wasn’t drinking enough, and this concerned her. So I did, and everything was fine.
There will be some days that your belly looks smaller or larger. If it’s fluctuating, chances are, there’s nothing to freak out about. But you can always ask at your next checkup. Unless you notice it steadily shrinking, get it looked at immediately.
I will say this…those maternity pants are your besties right now. Because of that elastic waistband, you will feel comfortable no matter how big, or small your belly grows. Watch for patterns in the bump appearance. According to the experts, it’s fairly normal if they keep getting bigger by night and seeming to shrink by morning.
If you ever feel like something is off, not just with bump size but what’s happening inside you, listen to your gut. Get it checked out, and you’ll have peace of mind or assistance for whatever is happening.
Leslie Berry lives with her husband and two young daughters in Los Altos, California, where she loves helping other moms get comfortable with motherhood and embracing the insanity with facts peppered with laughs.
She loves eating too much sushi, exercising, and jamming out on her Fender. Read more about Leslie here.