It has been done in comedy many times. That moment when one person asks “when is the baby due?” and the other responds with “I’m not pregnant”.
While it can be a funny moment on TV, trying to work out the difference between a fat belly and a pregnant belly can be difficult.
Why does it matter?
Well you may be an expectant mother wondering if that belly you’ve formed is your little baby bump starting to show or if you’ve been overeating.
It may also be that you’re wondering whether someone you know may be pregnant.
Thankfully, we’re here to give you the answers as you may have many questions about belly fat and pregnancy.
We’ll look at the crucial differences and how you can tell the two apart so you can avoid embarrassment.
Let’s start by looking at an overview of the pregnant belly vs fat belly difference.
Pregnant Belly vs Fat Belly Difference
When a woman is pregnant, she will go through several changes in her body.
Sadly, most of these changes start to occur at once, which might be a little overwhelming.
When the uterus begins to grow, it puts outward pressure on the abdomen.
As the fetus inside a pregnant woman matures, the tissues around her belly will also start to harden.
Tissue-hardening is a crucial transformation as it helps the women carry the baby’s weight and support its development.
Every woman has a unique body structure and shape. Pregnant bellies can have different sizes and shapes.
Also, you cannot predict how a pregnant belly will look at any specific pregnancy point.
Several factors play an essential role in determining the shape and size of pregnant bellies.
These factors are weight, number of previous pregnancies, height, bone structure, muscle tone, and body shape.
By now, you should have a clear understanding that each pregnant belly is different.
So don’t make the mistake of comparing your pregnant belly with that of your colleagues or friends.
Also, do not take movie references as accurately.
You might develop a bump around your belly a few weeks earlier than first-timers if you have given birth before.
You might also develop bigger and larger spots if you have given birth before. But why does this happen?
After your first pregnancy, the tissues around your belly have already taken a hit.
The tissues are not as tight as they used to be. Due to their current structure, the tissues will stretch farther.
Do not make the mistake of thinking your baby is under-developed just because your belly is not as big as that of another pregnant woman.
Everyone is different and any fears can be discussed with a healthcare professional.
Knowing if you’re Pregnant
If you are sure about your pregnancy, you should not wait for your belly to start growing outwards.
Even when your body isn’t showing any changes, you might already go through the pregnancy process.
You can divide the entire tenure of your pregnancy into three trimesters.
You will not have to wait long before you start seeing visible physical changes but what about those early stages where you may be unsure about whether or not you are pregnant?
If you’ve developed a bit of a tummy then it may be a good idea to check whether or not you have any symptoms.
In reality, you will almost certainly know if you’re pregnant before your baby bump shows if you have a regular cycle and your periods have stopped.
For women with irregular cycles, it can be a lot more difficult.
So if you’re feeling a bit bloated and are wondering whether it is a fat belly or a baby bump, then check to see if you’ve recently had any of these symptoms:
1. Sickness – Morning sickness and general nausea is one of the most commonly known symptoms of early pregnancy which affects many women.
2. Changes in the restroom – Pregnancy can also affect you in the toilet. Pregnancy hormones can cause constipation and also frequent urination. If you have either of these, it may be a symptom of pregnancy.
3. Fatigue – If an overwhelming sense of tiredness has recently swept over you then it could be down to hormonal changes.
4. Aches and Pains – Those hormones and bodily changes can cause headaches, backache and even sensitive nipples. Unexplained pain could be a sign of pregnancy.
5. Spotting – Spotting can be confused with an irregular period and isn’t uncommon shortly after conception.
If you’ve recently noticed any of these symptoms, then there is a good chance that you’re pregnant.
The Development of Belly Fat
There are various reasons why you might gain belly fat.
Poor diet, lack of physical activity, and stress can lead to fat development around your belly.
As long as you switch to an active lifestyle, you will immediately start to shed fat.
If you are overweight, then there are many health issues that have an increased risk such as dementia, breast cancer, asthma, colon cancer, heart attacks, stroke, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.
The number of reasons that lead up to fat development around your belly is poor diet.
If you consume excessive amounts of processed drinks, candy, and cakes, it will eventually make you fat.
Also, when you consume a lot of junk food, it affects your body’s healthy metabolism. Moreover, it reduces a person’s ability to burn body fat.
If you’ve recently had a poor diet then you may be wondering if that is the cause of your increased belly size.
We talked before about the hardening of tissue that occurs when the body is preparing for pregnancy.
Due to this belly fat will be much softer and sag more than a pregnancy belly.
This is usually an easy way to tell the difference between the two.
This isn’t always the case as if you are overweight, the difference is harder to spot. Also, a bloated belly can be confused with a pregnant one.
Critical Differences between Fat Belly and Pregnant Belly
For women, their tummies aren’t the only place that stores fat.
The female body also holds the fat in the thighs and the lower abdominal area.
This is a key indicator of the pregnant belly vs fat belly difference.
If you get a larger belly only during the night, it might be because of bloating.
Bloating happens when there is an imbalance between the intestine floras and sluggish bowels.
Also, you might get bloated due to the consumption of any allergic food item.
If your spine is curved, you will see a low belly. Also, if you continue doing a monotonous workout, you will have a soft belly.
If you do not want love handles around your stomach, avoid alcohol and sugar.
If you suffer from chronic stress, you will experience fat development around your belly.
Fat gain happens as you get no physical activity at all.
For someone with a larger belly, if you feel around you can usually know that it’s due to fat as it will be soft and loose.
If you can squeeze different areas of your belly, then it’s almost certainly going to be down to fat.
If you have a bloated belly but without the symptoms that come with feeling bloated, then it could be down to pregnancy.
How to Spot Whether it’s Fat or Pregnancy
Are you wondering whether someone you know has a baby in their belly or is becoming a little overweight?
If you are wondering, then don’t ask! Many women wait until around three months before letting people know they are pregnant.
It’s only around that time that a baby bump will start to show on most women.
The reason that many women don’t let people know before then is due to the high risk of miscarriage.
Even if a woman is pregnant and you feel they may be showing a bump, it’s best not to bring it up, even if your suspicions are correct.
If it’s a work colleague, friend or acquaintance, then they’ll let you know the great news when they are ready.
Before then it’s best to keep your suspicions to yourself.
After a few months, a baby bump becomes very obvious but before then, it’s best to be quiet.
When women (and men) gain weight, it doesn’t just go to their bellies.
If someone is becoming overweight, then it will also show in other areas including their face, legs, and arms.
If you are speculating about a stranger, then you’ll have no idea if they have recently changed or not.
You should keep any questions to yourself until you know for sure.
Fat bellies are usually softer and sag more than pregnant bellies. The more slender a woman is, the easier it is to see these changes.
For most women, however, the changes are not always obvious.
If you’re a woman wondering whether or not you are pregnant, it’s best to find out for certain and get a test.
If you’re someone wondering whether or not someone you know is pregnant, hopefully this article has given you the info you on the pregnant belly vs fat belly difference but remember to keep your suspicions to yourself.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can you tell the difference between fat and pregnant?
There are several ways you can tell whether or not you are pregnant.
The first indication of pregnancy is changes in your menstrual pattern.
For women who get their periods on time, it is very easy for them to notice any irregularities in their period cycle.
If your increased belly size is soft and easy to squeeze, then it’s most likely going to be fat tissue.
As a safety measure, you should always take a home pregnancy test. This will give you peace of mind as it’s not always easy to tell without one.
How can you tell by your belly if you are pregnant?
Women expect their bellies to start swelling from the first day of pregnancy. Sadly, this is not how the human body works.
If you want to tell whether or not you are pregnant, it will be very hard.
If you want to rely solely on your belly shape, you might have to wait for as many as twenty weeks before seeing any visible changes.
For many women this is much sooner but if your belly starts to get bloated without any other explanation, then pregnancy is a likely reason.
Is it a baby bump or bloating?
Bloating can happen for many reasons such as if you consume food that you are allergic to or if you eat anything that may give you excessive gas in your gastrointestinal tract.
It may also be caused by constipation or a medical condition such as IBS.
Most of these will come with symptoms such as tummy pain, rumbling noises or increased flatulence.
If you’re getting a bloated belly without these symptoms, it could be a baby bump.
It’s good to check whether you have any of the symptoms of pregnancy that we listed above.
Iesha is a loving mother of 2 beautiful children. She’s an active parent who enjoys indoor and outdoor adventures with her family. Her mission is to share practical and realistic parenting advice to help the parenting community becoming stronger.