The human body is an incredible thing to behold in and of itself. But, when you add in the process of growing a tiny life, it can be an even more mind-blowing concept. One of the most noticeable bodily changes during pregnancy is when you first begin to show. For me, something just felt more "official" once I had a legit baby bump that people wouldn't mistake for a food baby. But what about the physical fluctuations that aren't so easy to explain? For instance, when you wake up to a smaller pregnancy belly in the morning than you went to bed with the night before. If you noticed this happening, too, then you might be happily surprised to learn that you are definitely not alone in this freaky size-change phenomenon.
Proving that — once again — some of Hollywood's biggest celebrities aren't so different from your everyday person, Khloé Kardashian recently shared her bizarre pregnant belly experience with the world. If the retweets and love are any indication, it would seem that having a seemingly smaller baby bump in the morning is a fairly common occurrence among many women. In her tweet, Kardashian added, "throughout the day [their bump] gets bigger and bigger and bigger." This just makes matters more confusing when your bump is not only appearing to have shrunk upon waking, but it also seems to expand back to its full size by bedtime.
So what explanation — if any — is there for this magical morphing mystery? Childbirth International qualified birth doula Susannah Birch told Trimester Talk, "at night time, your abdominal muscles are tired from holding your bump [and they] loosen as they grow more tired, which allows your bump to sit out further and appear larger." OK, so that explains how your belly expands throughout the day. But how does your stomach shrink by morning? "When you go to sleep, your muscles get a chance to rest and recuperate so they’re refreshed and ready to maintain your bump’s position when you wake," Birch further explained.
According to What To Expect, "the stretching that your ab muscles go through during pregnancy to accommodate your growing baby ... puts tension on the area." It's normal for your growing belly to change its shape slightly from day to day. As it turns out, a particular hormone that causes abdominal muscle stretching during pregnancy plays a pretty significant role. In a recent study that was published in the Handbook of Biologically Active Peptides, researchers found that relaxin — a hormone that loosens muscles — is highest in the evening hours, seemingly following, "circadian-based functions." For the uninitiated, a circadian activity is, "characterized by occurring in approximately 24-hour periods or cycles, as of biological function," as the official website for Merriam-Webster reported. So, if your level of relaxin is lower in the early hours of the day and higher in the later hours of the night, then it makes sense that your abdominal muscles would gradually stretch throughout the day and give the appearance of a growing belly.
The number of pregnancies you have had, your build, and your age can make the effects of this small-to-large transformation even more noticeable as well. Your muscles may loosen more significantly, "if you have carried multiples or a large baby, are of small stature, or are age 35 or older," OB-GYN Dr. Yvonne Butler Tobah noted on the official website for the Mayo Clinic. A tall baby might be in the cards for Kardashian since she's is 5 feet 10 inches tall, as Refinery29 noted, and her partner, Tristan Thompson, is 6 feet 9 inches tall, according to his official biography on the site for the National Basketball Association (NBA).
Even if you don't check any of the boxes listed in the aforementioned Mayo Clinic article, you can still experience this eerie effect. For example, "depending on the position your baby is in, your belly may at times look smaller and at others slightly bigger," as Kidspot reported. Your early morning bump size might just be because your little one is hiding out.
What and when you eat can play a role in your evolving baby bump size, too. "There can be low levels of swelling from foods that inflame her gut lining," Dr. Aumatma Shah, a fertility specialist, tells Romper. "That can certainly cause a bloated feeling in the abdomen or the belly looking larger." Unless you eat in your sleep, it makes sense that your stomach would be emptier and less inflamed due to not consuming anything for a long stretch of time. In the end, it seems all the experts agree that — although it's certainly an intriguing occurrence — having a smaller pregnant belly in the morning is completely normal.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.