If you’ve recently found out that you’re expecting then congratulations are in order! Or maybe you’re still waiting for that exciting news and you’re wondering what happens to existing belly fat when pregnant.
If you’re trying for a baby and you’re experiencing weight gain, you might be thinking ‘pregnant belly or belly fat?’ The only way you can be sure is through a pregnancy test.
Or maybe you’re expecting and thinking ‘will people notice I’m pregnant?’ or ‘when will my bump show?’ But you really don’t need to worry!
This blog includes:
- Types of belly fat
- Gaining weight in pregnancy
- What happens to existing belly fat when pregnant?
- When will I start to look pregnant?
- Overweight in pregnancy
- Gestational diabetes
- Tips for a healthy pregnancy
Types of belly fat
Everyone has some existing fat on their body. There are different types of fat that you should be aware of. One type of fat is called ‘subcutaneous fat’ which is something that everyone is born with and affects your body shape. Those who eat more calories than they burn and do little exercise will have a higher amount of subcutaneous fat. This can lead to health problems.
Another type of fat is ‘visceral fat’ which lives around the organs. Too much visceral fat around the organs can lead to health complications. A high level of visceral fat is mostly caused by a poor diet.
Gaining weight in pregnancy
Many expecting women worry about excess weight gain during pregnancy. You must remember that some weight gain is normal. If you become worried and want some advice, ask your midwife. Your midwife will know whether your body is growing at the typical rate of pregnancy.
Your midwife will use your BMI (body mass index) to work out how much weight you should be putting on during pregnancy. You can use an online BMI calculator to work out the range you were in pre-pregnancy.
You probably don’t need to worry about your weight too much if you were not overweight before pregnancy. If you were overweight, you may need closer monitoring due to increased risk of complications.
If you are not yet pregnant, then it might be a good idea to start building healthy habits now. You could incorporate regular, moderate exercise into your routine as well as a healthy diet. This is particularly important if you are considered obese.
What happens to existing belly fat when pregnant?
Your body goes through many changes during pregnancy and it’s completely normal to be putting weight on.
During pregnancy, your existing belly fat stretches around your growing baby. This means that for women who are carrying a little more weight, it may take longer for the belly to display the typical roundness associated with pregnancy. As your belly fat stretches, you might notice that your tummy starts to feel firmer, depending on your weight.
If you’re worried about when you’ll be able to announce your pregnancy, there’s no need to panic. You can announce it whenever you are ready to. You don’t need to have a prominent baby bump to be able to tell everyone your news! Why not start wearing some maternity clothes to accentuate your bump?
New fat that you gain in pregnancy will usually appear in other areas such as the legs and back. This means that after your belly fat has stretched around your bump, it will likely continue growing rounder.
When will I start to look pregnant?
The time at which you may look more obviously pregnant depends on the amount of fat you are carrying. For the average pregnant woman, a baby bump becomes clear between weeks 12 and 16. However, this can be earlier if the expectant mother has a smaller frame.
For those carrying more weight it may take longer for the baby bump to appear more obviously. As your baby grows, you will notice your body changing. Women who carry twins may find that their belly is growing faster despite being earlier in pregnancy.
If this is your first pregnancy, it’s no wonder you’re feeling anxious and wanting to know when your bump will show. Remember that every woman’s body is different.
Overweight in pregnancy
If you’re overweight before pregnancy, you will need close monitoring throughout. It is often harder for medical professionals to estimate dates for overweight pregnant women. Excess abdominal fat can make ultrasounds harder and carrying more weight can affect the menstrual cycle.
If you’re overweight when you become pregnant, it’s unlikely that you will be told to lose tummy fat. Instead you’ll be offered tips for maintaining a healthy and nutritious diet.
Depending on your current weight situation, you will receive the correct monitoring and testing. Try not to worry too much and do your best to make healthy choices. This will support your developing baby.
Due to excess weight you will likely have a test for gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes is essentially high blood sugar which occurs during pregnancy. It is more common in women that are overweight and is caused by the body not producing enough insulin.
Many women are tested for gestational diabetes as it usually doesn’t come with any symptoms. If your first test comes back negative, you may be asked to complete another at a later date. Your doctor will explain their plans for testing.
Gestational diabetes usually goes away after you’ve given birth to your little one. It can put you at higher risk of developing it again in a future pregnancy or developing type 2 diabetes.
Tips for a healthy pregnancy
A balanced diet
In pregnancy, your diet plays an important role in keeping both you and your baby healthy. Healthy eating habits include having a balanced diet. There are some foods that should be avoided during pregnancy.
When pregnant, you may be advised to increase your calorie intake. This is so that both you and your baby are eating properly. Your midwife can advise you on this as it will vary between the first trimester and second and third trimesters. If you’re unsure on calorie amounts or tips on avoiding junk food then speak to your midwife.
Our main advice is to eat fresh fruits and vegetables as well as lean protein. Consuming lean meat can help to promote your baby’s growth. Make sure you drink plenty of water during pregnancy.
In addition to a healthy diet, regular exercise is important. In pregnancy, you should avoid strenuous exercise and consider activities like walking and yoga. Not only does exercise benefit your physical health, it can also improve your mental wellbeing.
After your baby’s born, you might go for a short walk everyday, building these habits while pregnant is great!
You may also choose to take a multivitamin which can help to boost your immune system. Speak to your midwife if you’re unsure which vitamins would be best. Many women begin taking folic acid before pregnancy and until the 12 week mark. Folic acid can help to reduce the risks of your baby having a birth defect.
Attend all appointments
Due to being overweight, you will be invited for more frequent appointments. It is very important that you attend them all in order to promote a healthy pregnancy. Attending appointments means that any signs of increased risk can be dealt with accordingly. It also means they can check that your growing foetus is in line with the growth chart.
Keep stress to a minimum
At the beginning of your pregnancy, you will be assessed to see if there is any risk of complications due to your extra fat. If you’re feeling worried, you can always ask your healthcare provider for advice.
Try and keep your stress levels down by taking time out for yourself and resting when you can. Don’t get caught up on weight loss during pregnancy, just do what you can to promote a healthy baby and birth.
Hey there, I’m Abigail!
I recently graduated with a degree in Marketing. I’m currently a freelance blogger and Marketing Assistant. I love learning new things and hope that you find my blogs useful and informative.
See you in the next article!