It’s kind of amazing to see how your body stretches (and stretches) once you become pregnant. But when it comes to pregnancy, you only expect your bump to get bigger. So it can be scary when you wake up in the morning and your belly looks significantly smaller than it did before you went to bed. But there’s a logical reason why your pregnancy bump is smaller in the mornings — a few, actually.
The good thing is that your pregnancy bump itself isn’t shrinking, according to Dr. Kim Langdon, MD, an OB/GYN. “The actual size of your uterus doesn’t grow or shrink depending on the time of the day,” says Dr. Langdon. Instead, what is expanding (or contracting) is the skin around your stomach, which can give the illusion that your entire bump is smaller come morning. Still, there are other reasons why your belly can appear larger at night, and tinier by morning. Here’s why:
You’ve Had More Than One Baby
Try as you might, it’s very hard to make those stomach muscles taut again after your first baby is born. So if you’re finding that your belly is doing a disappearing act in the a.m., it might have something to do with the fact that you’re already a mom. “The more pregnancies you have had, the more your core muscles are stretched out,” Jada Shapiro, expert doula, childbirth educator and founder of boober, tells Romper. “Therefore it is common for people with their second pregnancy and beyond to look significantly more pregnant earlier on than people carrying their first pregnancy.” But showing sooner isn’t the only trick that your belly can perform during pregnancy; this also applies to the size of your bump over the course of the day. Says Shapiro: “Someone who carried a pregnancy before is more likely to see their bump get bigger at the end of the day due to a more stretched out core muscle system.”
Your fingers and feet aren’t the only body parts that get bloated during your nine months. But swelling is a big reason why you might look and feel fuller at night — and seemingly shrink by morning. “Something that may make you feel that your bump is smaller in the morning is that bloat is less in the a.m. compared throughout the day,” Dr. Langdon explains. “Eating and drinking can induce bloat and be confused with the size of your belly, which might make you feel nervous if you see it ‘shrink’ come morning.”
Your Baby Is In A Different Position
All those somersaults sure might make it uncomfortable to get a good night’s sleep, but Baby’s uterine antics also do something else: they can make your belly larger or smaller, depending on the position they’re in, according to Shapiro. “A baby in the transverse position (horizontal with the head on one side and the feet on the other) is going to make a wider bump,” she says. “A baby who is head down with their back out against the pregnant person's belly is going to have a smoother rounder shape, whereas the baby with their back against the pregnant person's back may have a lumpier shape which could look smaller since the back is not pressing against the belly.” So if you wake up one morning and your belly appears smaller, it might just be that your baby has shifted position — and is hopefully getting ready to move head down in preparation for labor.
You Haven’t Eaten
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.” And while eating a big meal at dinnertime (or a delish midnight snack) might make your bump bigger, the same holds true for the morning, when your tummy is empty — and your belly is smaller.
Your Belly Muscles Are Tighter In The Morning
If you’ve ever felt like your pants are more snug at night, there’s a reason why. “Most experts agree that the phenomenon of seeing your baby bump expand by evening has to do with the stomach muscles relaxing and releasing over the day,” Shapiro explains. “Overnight rest allows the stomach muscles to rejuvenate and do more of the work to hold the uterus in and up which is why your bump may seem smaller earlier in the day.” That’s why a 9 months-pregnant belly looks smaller on some days rather than others.
Here’s When Your Pregnancy Bump Size Should Be A Concern
Even though your belly might get bigger after dinner and go back down to its regular size in the morning light, it’s probably nothing to worry about. When it can possibly become a problem is if you’re noticing that your bump is consistently smaller, no matter what time of day it is. “If you notice a steady decline in size of the bump or it doesn’t get bigger, then you should notify your doctor immediately,” advises Dr. Langdon. “This could potentially indicate growth problems with the baby.” If you’re having any concerns about the size of your bump, call your OB/GYN, who can measure your belly and perform an ultrasound to ensure that your baby is growing safe and sound in your belly.
While you might ask yourself, “Why does my pregnant belly look smaller some days?”, for the most part, it’s pretty normal. Still, if you think that your bump hasn’t grown or are concerned about its overall size, you should call your OB/GYN, who can measure your baby and perform an ultrasound to ensure that your little one (and your belly) are both growing as they should be.
Dr. Kim Langdon, MD, an OB/GYN
Jada Shapiro, expert doula, childbirth educator and founder of boober
Dr. Aumatma Shah, a fertility specialist
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