What 'Carrying Low' Actually Means, According To Experts

The sign of a baby bump seems to carry with it an open invitation for friends and perfect strangers alike to weigh in on the size and shape of your belly. Comments like, “You’re huge!” make you wonder if people even understand pregnancy hormones and just, you know, manners. Of course, old wives’ tales say a belly that serves as a shelf for your breasts means you are pregnant with a girl, while one that completely obscures your vagina from view means you’re having a boy. But what does carrying low mean in terms of your pregnancy health or progression?

“'Carrying low’ is mostly an observational statement people make when they see a mother with a large pregnant belly which appears to be fuller below the belly button,” Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator (LCCE) and Fellow of American College of Childbirth Educators (FACCE) Deena Blumenfeld of Shining Light Prenatal Education tells Romper in an email interview. “In that sense, it's a rather meaningless opinion.”

Blumenfield explains that from a medical standpoint, "low" refers to baby's station, or “how far down your baby’s head has descended into your pelvis,” according to Healthline. “Each centimeter lower is +1, +2, and so forth,” she says. “A ‘low’ baby is in the positive numbers. A baby who is ‘high’ or ‘floating’ is in the negative numbers.”

Dr. Sherry Ross, OB-GYN and Women’s Health Expert at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, tells Romper in an email interview that, while “carrying low” is often a description of how a woman is carrying her pregnancy, it might also be the result of a second or third pregnancy that causes the belly to appear low.

“The abdominal muscles are stretched out, less supportive to the uterus, and the baby appears to be lower in the abdomen,” she says. “As the pregnancy progresses and the baby grows, it appears as though you are carrying lower since the abdomen muscles don’t support the uterus as well.”

Of course, while it doesn't seem like where your belly rests has much to do with your pregnancy, it doesn't mean it will stop people from sharing their opinions. For the most part, they are harmless, but you know I'm going to look the other way if you feel otherwise.