During pregnancy, your body undergoes a massive change: from a growing baby to hormones and pregnancy symptoms. However, it’s important to note that no two pregnant women are the same. If one female is experiencing a certain pregnancy symptom, the other one might not even get them.
Therefore, you should not compare yourself to another woman – especially your belly. While most women get hard bellies during pregnancy, soft bellies are not that rare either.
During pregnancy, your uterus starts to expand. As a result, your belly gets tight and hard. This tightness might fluctuate due to the contractions and gas. There is no rock-solid rule about when your belly will get tight and hard. So, if your stomach feels soft, you don’t have to imagine the worst.
To get more insight, keep reading and learn why your stomach feels soft during different phases of pregnancy and what factors affect the hardness and softness of the belly.
Why is my Pregnant Belly Soft?
Let’s start with the basic question: why is your pregnant stomach soft?
Well, most pregnant women start to experience their pregnancy symptoms as soon as they get pregnant. However, the others might even not notice the bump until they are half in the 1st trimester. Most of us relate pregnancy with round, hard bellies. However, there are several variations between pregnant women.
Keep in mind that pregnancy is not the same for all women. For example, if you have a higher fat content, you might maintain a chubby and soft stomach for a longer period. This is because your womb already has a lot of space for your uterus. Furthermore, if it’s your first child, you might not even get pregnancy symptoms until you undergo 2nd trimester because of your fitted abdominal muscles.
Following are some of the most common factors that might influence your pregnant belly:
- Fluid quantity
- Previous pregnancies
- Uterus shape
- Multiple babies
- Child’s position
- Body type
If you’re too worried about your soft belly, you can visit your midwife or OB/GYN. Maintaining regular and consistent prenatal visits can also help you a lot.
Why do Bellies get hard during Pregnancy?
As mentioned earlier, numerous factors can influence your pregnant belly.
The most common reasons why a pregnant women’s belly gets tight and hard during pregnancy are uterus expansion, labor-related contractions, and muscle stretch. However, sometimes, a miscarriage can also cause this physical change. So, if you are experiencing cramping and bleeding, you should immediately contact your doctor.
While some pregnant women can notice the hardening of their belly even before the 1st trimester, others might not even notice it until much later. Here are some of the most common causes why your belly gets tight and hard during pregnancy:
- True-Labor Contractions
- Braxton Hicks Contractions
- Baby Positioning
- Gastrointestinal Issues
- Uterine expansion
These clinical signs can cause the hardening of your belly, but they are not quite consistent. The momentary nature of these signs can cause soft and hard bellies from time to time. So, you don’t have to get worried immediately if you feel like your bump is disappearing.
Why is my Pregnant Belly sometimes hard and sometimes Soft?
If gastrointestinal issues, contractions, and baby positioning is influencing your belly, your belly will be hard and soft from time to time. This is because these symptoms are not that consistent.
In simplest words, a pregnant women’s stomach can get harder and softer depending on different pregnancy contractions, fat gain, cramps, gas, baby movement, kicking, and positioning. If you are experiencing the clinical signs of preeclampsia, which include cold flashes, vaginal discharge, nausea, fever, bleeding, and spotting, you should immediately visit your doctor.
Typically, you will get used to this belly change, including firmness, size, and shape. Just keep in mind that your stomach will surely become firm and large when you undergo the 3rd trimester.
Why is my belly soft/hard throughout pregnancy?
As discussed earlier, numerous causes can result in softening or hardening your bellow. To understand the process of pregnancy, let’s discuss different trimesters and the possible clinical signs that they bring.
The first trimester starts even before you get pregnant. Generally speaking, this trimester begins on the 1st day of your last period and lasts until the end of the 12th week of pregnancy.
The clinical signs that are most common in the 1st trimester include:
- Increased urination
- Food craving
- Tender breasts
The frequency of pregnancy symptoms is not that noticeable in this phase. Most women don’t even get a bump in the 1st trimester. The actual pregnancy symptoms will start to show at the beginning of the 2nd trimester.
Some women do experience a little bump during the 1st trimester because of the uterus expansion. However, during this phase, the softening and hardening of your stomach is probably a result of bloating and gas.
Now, during this phase, you will experience most of the pregnancy symptoms. The 2nd trimester begins at the start of the 13th week and lasts until the end of the 27th week of the pregnancy. In this stage, most pregnant women start to notice serious body changes and the following clinical signs:
- Increased discharge
- Sensitive gums
- Skin changes
- Growing breasts and belly
- Urinary infections
- Leg cramps
Even though the 2nd trimester brings painful symptoms, this phase is the favorite trimester for most pregnant women.
In the second trimester, your uterus will grow to the size of a papaya. As a result, it won’t properly sit into your pelvis, and your belly will grow. Along with the uterus expansion, your abdominal muscles will also begin to stretch in this phase will make your belly tight and hard.
Braxton Hicks contractions are quite common in the 2nd trimester of pregnancy as well. These contractions are recognized as false labor, and they will make your stomach rock hard for around 2 minutes.
The third trimester is the last phase of pregnancy. It will begin at the 28th week and will end when you give birth to your infant. This phase brings the following pregnancy symptoms:
- Pelvic Pain
- Frequent Urination
- Back Pain
- Shortness of Breath
- Indigestion and Heartburn
In the 3rd trimester, your uterus will grow to the size of a watermelon, resulting in belling tightening and hardening. Now, in this stage, your belly will stay hard until you give birth to your child. Your stomach might get a little too tight due to Braxton Hicks contractions, but they are quite normal in this stage.
What causes a hard Belly during Pregnancy?
There are numerous causes that can lead to a hard belly during pregnancy, such as:
During pregnancy, your uterus will expand possibly to the size of a watermelon and will transform into your unborn baby.
During uterus expansion, your stomach will get large, and the abdominal muscles will stretch. As a result, your belly will become tight and hard.
Your uterus will expand both inwards and outwards, putting noticeable pressure on another body organ. This is the main reason why you get discomfort during pregnancy.
Gastrointestinal issues are also quite common during pregnancy.
GI problems are usually caused by progesterone – pregnancy hormones that are crucial for sustaining a healthy womb. These hormones reduce the digestion process by relaxing your intestines’ muscles. This approach will surely cause an uncomfortable and hard belly during pregnancy.
Braxton Hicks contractions
Once the first trimester ends, you will start to experience Braxton Hicks contractions. These contractions are also known as false labor and are described by uterine spasms and abdominal tightening.
Braxton Hicks contractions are sometimes painless but can also cause menstrual cramping. These contractions will make your belly hard as a rock for around two minutes. However, afterward, your stomach will go back to its original firmness.
To reduce the Braxton Hicks contractions, you should change position, take warm baths and stay hydrated.
Once your uterus transforms into your unborn baby, you will feel your child exploring your womb.
Your baby’s position can greatly influence your belly’s size and firmness. If your belly is getting hard due to the baby’s positioning, your stomach will be soft in some places and hard in others.
At the end of 3rd trimester, your child’s head will drop into the pelvis. This phase is commonly known as “lightening” as it reduces the pressure on your other organs.
During the lightening phase, your belly will get heavier and harder at the bottom and softer at the top because now your baby is in the lower part of your body.
True labor and Braxton Hicks contractions have the same symptoms. Therefore, most mothers cannot even distinguish between both labors.
Just like false labor, your belly will become hard and tight once you go into true labor.
Keep reading to learn the common difference between true labor and false labor.
Real Labor vs. False Labor
Here’s how you can distinguish between true labor and false labor:
It is true labor if contractions…
- Move from back to front
- Get progressively stronger
- Come and get closer from time to time and last for about 30 to 70 seconds
- Continue regardless of resting and movement
It is false labor if contractions…
- Cause pain only in the front
- Are completely painless
- Are not consistent
- Stop at resting or walking