I don't know about you, but when I was pregnant almost everyone seemed hellbent on visually analyzing my baby bump, then letting me know what it said about me and my pregnancy. Some individuals believe the position of your belly (low or high) can predict a future baby's sex or when they will be born, and those people just love testing that theory on pregnant people. But what does it really mean if your belly is low during pregnancy?
It turns out, how you carry your pregnancy doesn't say much about your baby at all. It might, however, say a few things about you and your body. According to researchers from Johns Hopkins University, you absolutely can’t tell the sex of your baby by how your pregnant body looks. As John Thoppil, M.D., assistant clinical professor at Texas A&M University College of Medicine, told Fit Pregnancy, carrying your pregnancy low has a lot more to do with your pre-pregnancy body size and shape, how much room your baby has to move and grow, whether or not you’ve been pregnant before, and how strong and toned your abdominal muscles are.
Towards the end of your pregnancy, Michigan Medicine notes that your baby might "drop" towards your birth canal. But your baby's movement on the inside may or may not actually be visible from the outside, no matter how many people tell you differently. So that intrusive stranger in the checkout line at Target might *think* they can predict your baby's birthday by the size and position of your belly, but science says otherwise.
Since the the beginning of time, people have been trying to predict the sex of their babies in a whole host of ways. However, when researchers at Johns Hopkins University put pregnant people's skills to the test, they found that using how you carry your pregnancy as a method of predicting the sex of your baby is inconsistent at best. You might as well roll a pair of dice, my friends.
As Thoppil told Fit Pregnancy, having a low bump during pregnancy might be more common during second and subsequent pregnancies. This is because pregnancy stretches your abdominal muscles, causes your hips and pelvis to get wider, and creates more room for baby to grow. In contrast, during a first pregnancy your abdominal muscles are likely to be firmer and, as a result, you will generally carry your baby higher.
The same goes for having a toned core, which can hold your baby in and result in you starting to show later in your pregnancy and having a higher bump when you do begin to show. Additionally, Thoppil notes that your body size and height will also impact the size, shape, and height of your baby bump. For example, shorter people generally carry lower and wider.
According to Yvonne Butler Tobah, M.D., at Mayoclinic.org, how you carry your pregnancy may or may not say anything about your baby, but your doctor might be able to tell a lot from measuring your uterus. This "fundal height" measurement is taken from week 20 on and is generally in line with the number of weeks pregnant you are (meaning that at 20 weeks you should measure about 20 cm from your pelvic bone to the top of your uterus). A lower measurement might indicate that your baby is growing too slowly or doesn't have enough amniotic fluid, and a higher measurement might mean you are having a big baby or that you have too much fluid.
As the size of your bump grows, people might also try to predict your baby's birthday based on how high or low your belly appears. While Michigan Medicine notes that many moms-to-be experience their baby dropping or belly lightening towards the end of their third trimester, it's not a very good tool for predicting when labor will start.
The same site notes that first-time moms will experience their baby dropping anywhere from two to four weeks before labor starts, and people who have been pregnant before might not have their baby make their move until after they go into labor. As for whether or not well-meaning observers can notice these changes from the outside? Well, probably not. So feel free to tell Suzan to avert her eyes and keep her opinions to herself.