What Happens to Existing Belly Fat When Pregnant?

By Maria Wilcox •  Updated: 10/27/22 •  7 min read
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Wondering what happens to existing belly fat when pregnant? The answer is pretty much the same for everyone. Eager to learn more? Keep reading for all you ever wanted to know about what happens to that extra weight you’re carrying after you’ve gotten pregnant.

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What Happens To Existing Belly Fat When Pregnant

Does Belly Fat Go Away During Pregnancy?

So, what happens to existing belly fat when pregnant? Does belly fat go away during pregnancy?

Not quite.

Belly fat technically has nowhere to go during pregnancy. It will be there just as it has always been. The difference, however, lies in how that belly fat will look once your pregnant belly emerges.

Allow me to explain. 

When your uterus begins to grow it will take on a round shape as a result of a growing baby inside. The fat that usually sits on top of your belly is then stretched over that growing bump. It will appear tighter and firmer in many cases, but not all. Depending on how much weight you’re carrying, your typical belly pouch may look rounder but it may not be super obvious to everyone that you’re pregnant. This is especially true early on. 

What Happens to Existing Belly Fat When Pregnant

When Will My Fat Turn Into a Baby Bump?

Your existing fat will turn into a baby bump around 12 weeks of being pregnant for many people. It may happen sooner or later than that. For women that are overweight, it may take up to 20 weeks or longer before they begin showing.

Knowing when a baby bump will emerge is linked to a variety of factors, none of which are predictable. The 12-20 week rule is highly variable. This is because aspects such as genetics, whether or not you’ve had kids before, and personal fitness all play a role in how soon (or how late) you can expect to see your baby bump.

Our best advice? Just sit back and enjoy the ride. Whether or not you’re showing doesn’t affect whether or not you’re pregnant. You know you are!

And you’ve got enough things to worry about before your baby’s big arrival, right? There’s the baby shower, packing for labor, and possibly getting together a thank you gift for your labor nurses.

What Happens To Existing Belly Fat When Pregnant

Does Your Body Hold Onto Fat While Pregnant?

If you had pre-existing fat before you were pregnant, don’t worry, it isn’t going anywhere. Once you’ve had your baby you’ll notice that all of the fat you used to have on your body will still be there, and actually, there might be more of it!

As you likely already know, gaining weight during pregnancy isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it is recommended. There are benefits to gaining weight for your baby, and these include providing fattier and more satiating breast milk for your little one. 

On the flip side, there’s such a thing as overdoing it. The concept of eating for two has been banished, as it’s actually recommended you only consume 350-450 more calories than you normally would when pregnant versus not pregnant per day. 

Thus, if you were already overweight to begin with, you’ll want to really watch how much you eat. The best thing to do is to partner with your doctor who can give you a healthy recommendation for a diet plan that will nourish you and your baby without causing excessive weight gain that can cause you problems later on. 

How Can I Reduce My Big Belly During Pregnancy?

Pregnancy isn’t exactly the time when you’ll want to go on any hardcore diets. But it also isn’t the time to eat excessively (even though you’ll feel like it). Despite the extreme feelings of hunger and thirst, try to resist the urge to eat any and everything you crave. Instead, try to reach only for items that will provide nutrients to you and your baby. This will also make it easier for you to lose weight once you’ve had your baby.

How to Lose Belly Fat During Pregnancy

If you are very concerned about gaining additional weight while you’re pregnant due to existing fat in your body, you need to partner with your doctor to devise a safe and healthy eating plan. Never starve yourself or go on hardcore diets while pregnant. 

The following are a few tips to keep you full and healthy:

  • Don’t keep junk food in your home. 
  • The snacks you do keep in your house should be a healthy replacement for items you usually crave. For example, if you usually like noshing on salty chips, try salty peanuts instead.
  • Buy a pretty water bottle to sip on all day.
  • Try drinking naturally flavored sparkling water, like Bubbly or LaCroix, which are free of artificial sweeteners to replace traditional soda. 
  • Focus on your core meals, breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Make sure they’re packed with hefty portions of fruits, cooked veggies, healthy carbs, and healthy fats to keep you full and satiated from meal to meal. 
  • Take walks and get moving when you can. Try not to start any new strenuous workout plans while you’re pregnant. 
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What Happens to Existing Belly Fat When Pregnant? It’s Still There!

So, what happens to belly fat when you get pregnant? It stays there, that’s what! But it will take on a slightly different shape. If you’ve got a pre-existing jiggle on your abdomen, you can expect it to take on a rounder and potentially more taut appearance. Still, depending on how much of a pooch you’re sporting, you may not notice much of a baby bump; especially in the earlier months. 

Stay healthy! 

What Happens to Existing Belly Fat When Pregnant – FAQs

Can you get in better shape while pregnant?

If you make more nutritional choices than you did before you got pregnant and are more active, you may find yourself in better health after your baby is born than before you become pregnant. Still, I don’t recommend you take up any new rigorous workout routines while pregnant. Your body is already going through enough! 

How to lose weight while pregnant?

Don’t attempt to lose weight while pregnant unless advised by your doctor. At that point, you will need to work on a dietary action plan under your doctor’s supervision to ensure a safe and healthy pregnancy. 

Why do I have a pouch under my pregnant belly?

This is sometimes referred to as “apron belly” and occurs because the fat surrounding your internal organs is pushed out as a result of your growing uterus. This can sometimes create the appearance of an additional pouch under your pregnant belly. 

Will my belly overhang go away?

If you are expecting to magically wake up one day and find your hanging belly gone, it won’t happen. However, with a proper diet and a good workout routine (post-pregnancy of course), you can whip it back in shape— in due time. 

When will I start to look pregnant instead of fat?

Most women will get their baby bumps somewhere between 12-20 weeks. It can also happen sooner or later than this, but that will depend on a variety of factors. 

Maria Wilcox

Former instructor with an M.A. in Education turned grateful stay-at-home mama to one, I look to share helpful insights related to babies, toddlers, kids, and families for the benefit of real people just like you.

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