Pregnant Belly vs Fat Belly Difference: How to Distinguish

pregnant belly vs fat belly difference

The human body is truly a miracle when one considers all the things it can do. Since it is so complex, it is obvious that there will be a lot of things that people will not be able to understand with just a mere look. A common question people ask is about the pregnant belly versus fat belly difference and what can tell them about what type of belly they have.

Being pregnant is not always obvious. Some mothers may not notice any growth during the first trimester. If you’re unsure whether you have a growing baby or last night’s takeaway, no one can hold it against you. However, a pregnant belly differs from a fat stomach in certain ways. At first, they are not all that obvious. On the other hand, if you understand what you should be looking for, you might well be able to more easily determine your situation.

A pregnant woman will go through a number of changes. The abdomen will exert pressure to the outside when the uterus starts to expand. Not everyone can determine if they are pregnant just by looking at their expanding tummy. Many symptoms, such as missed periods, morning sickness, headaches, altered bathroom routines, cramping, and spotting, can be brought on by the changes in your body. There are a number of reasons for gaining excess fat. Stress, a poor diet, and little exercise can all contribute to abdominal obesity. If you change your lifestyle to a more active one, you will begin to lose belly fat right away.

While the difference between a pregnancy belly versus a fat belly is not obvious from just the look, both come with a variety of other symptoms that can help identify which one it is. Identifying this key difference can also help manage the situation. Knowing whether you have a pregnant-looking stomach or are actually pregnant is very important so that you can take the necessary steps.


A pregnant belly is very different from a belly that is overweight. Even though excessive foodies may have visceral fat covering their bellies, it will appear fuller than it actually is. There is more room than there would be when you are expecting and you are unable to eat as much. A pregnancy develops in the uterus, not in the stomach, which is where the food goes. When a woman is expecting, the fetus expands and pushes the uterus up from the lower abdomen. When a woman gains extra weight around her stomach, there is no baby present, only fat.

Difference between Pregnant Belly and Fat Belly

Pregnant belly

When a woman is pregnant, her body goes through so many changes. The uterus swells, putting more tension on the abdomen. In the event that your uterus is growing to suit the baby’s growth, your stomach area can feel a bit firmer, but it shouldn’t be incredibly hard. Instead, even though the level of hardness varies during the course of the pregnancy, there should still be some level of pliability. There are no body rolls with a pregnant belly.

Belly fat/Bloated belly

Abdominal fat, on the other hand, is soft and spongy. One difference is that fat tummies of pregnant women are equally soft and smooth, with the added benefit of a developing baby inside. If a woman is overweight, not all of the fat is located in her stomach; instead, her thighs and arms will also have some level of fat and, thus, will be soft and squishy.

What Is a Pregnant Belly?

The body of a pregnant woman will change in several ways.. The abdomen feels pressure when the uterus starts to expand.The tissues surrounding a pregnant woman’s belly will begin to stiffen as the fetus grows inside her. A major change is tissue hardening, which enables the mother to support and bear the baby’s weight.

Each woman’s body type and shape is different. Each baby bump might vary in size and shape. More so than the baby’s size, the pregnant belly size and appearance are determined by the mother. These elements contribute to your expanding belly:

  • Body type
  • Bone composition
  • Muscle definition
  • Number of prior pregnancies
  • Height
  • Weight

Symptoms of Pregnancy

  1.       Nausea. This is frequently one of the initial indicators of pregnancy. Vomiting and nausea, also termed morning sickness, typically begin two to eight weeks after conception. Some women don’t get morning sickness, while others have bad nausea attacks. Many women throw up during pregnancy. However, not all mothers will experience morning sickness.
  2.       Absence of Period. When an egg cell’s cycle is interrupted, periods occur. A fertilized egg, on the other hand, won’t shed; therefore, you won’t have your period. Some women have very regular menstrual cycles, and they may detect changes as soon as a period is absent. Others have inconsistent cycles; thus, their menstrual cycles are irregular. 
  3.       Bloating. Bloated bellies are frequently an indication of pregnancy. Bloating can sometimes start during the early stages of pregnancy. Progesterone levels rise early in pregnancy to help the uterus get ready. Additionally, progesterone slows down digestion, which may cause gas to build up in the intestines and result in stomach bloating.
  4.       Constipation. The pregnancy hormone progesterone can result in sluggish bowels. Constipation is, therefore, rather typical. A woman who was previously regular can have discomfort going to the restroom.
  5.       Urinating frequently. Due to fluctuations in physiology and hormones in the body, some women also endure frequent urination. Additionally, one can experience thirst and an increased desire to hydrate herself.
  6.       Fatigue. A typical early pregnancy symptom is feeling exhausted. You could discover that you desire to nap more frequently when your hormones shift. It’s possible that it’s the result of pregnancy hormones.
  7.       Spotting. It is not unusual to see some vaginal spotting between weeks six and nine. If bleeding occurs six to twelve days after the conception, implantation bleeding may be the cause. The presence of mild cramps can also cause this. Women who are not sexually active can dismiss this as an irregular period.
  8.     Headaches and Backaches. If you rarely experience headaches, it can be a symptom of pregnancy. For some pregnant women, hormone increases might result in headaches. Elevated estrogen levels during pregnancy can result in hormonal imbalances. Moreover, lower back pain may also indicate that you are expecting a child. Aching in the lower back is a frequent pregnancy symptom.
  9.   Dizziness. Another typical symptom for pregnant women is becoming lightheaded or dizzy if you stand up too rapidly. Your arteries enlarge while you’re pregnant, which lowers blood pressure.
  10.   Ice Cravings. Women frequently have anemia. However, their blood volume increases during pregnancy, which causes them to become more anemic. Anemia is frequently linked to the desire for ice, especially the urge to chew.
  11.   Nipple Changes. If you’re pregnant, the skin surrounding your nipples may begin to darken. Additionally, there is a possibility for nipple discharge (early milk production). This may occur during the first few months. If the discharge is colorful or bloody, it could be a sign of another serious medical condition, like a tumor. Immediately inform your physician about the situation.
  12.   Mood changes. Mood swings can happen at any time throughout pregnancy, even during the very first month. Mood swings can trigger agitation, sadness, or excitement.

What Is a Fat Belly?

What Is a Fat Belly

Fat accumulated in the belly area is referred to as belly fat. The bulge of a fat belly is similar to that of a pregnant belly, but it is just fatty tissue around the abdomen. Two types of abdominal fat exist:

  1. Visceral fat can be found around the internal organs in the abdomen. High visceral fat levels are linked to a higher risk of developing chronic conditions such as metabolic syndrome, type II diabetes, heart disease, and particular types of cancer.
  2. Subcutaneous fat is a kind of fat that is found under the skin. This kind protects your organs from harm and acts as insulation to control body temperature. It is also less dangerous to your body than visceral fat.

Signs of Fat Belly:

  • Waist size:

An increase in your waist size is the first sign that you’ve developed visceral fat. You might need to loosen your belt a notch. Maybe your jeans no longer fit. Use a fabric tape measure and check at the navel to calculate your waist measurement.

If the circumference of your waist exceeds 35 inches in females , you are at greater risk of a heart attack or stroke due to your abdominal fat. If your waist is between 31.6 and 34.9 inches as a woman, you are at moderate risk.

  • Hip to waist ratio:

Another approach to test for abdominal obesity, per Harvard Medical School, is to measure your waist-to-hip ratio. Check your waist at the belly button while your abdomen is at a relaxed angle. Then calculate your hips’ widest point. Subtract your hip size from your waist size; when that ratio exceeds 0.85 for women, the risk of having a heart attack or stroke increases.

  • You can hold it:

Subcutaneous fat is the fat beneath your skin—the type that you can hold or pinch.

Belly fat type:

Bloated belly

If your stomach continues to grow as night falls, you probably have an inflated belly. A bloated stomach could be because of unhealthy food choices like eating too much cheese or excess alcohol consumption.

Low belly

If your body is slender and only your stomach sticks out, you may have what is referred to as a low belly. It could be because you recently gave birth, you eat often, or your spine is naturally bent.

Love Handles

The “cushions” on a person’s sides are sometimes referred to as love handles. A sedentary lifestyle combined with eating a lot of sweets and carbohydrates or drinking too much alcohol are the main contributors to gaining weight around the midsection.

Stress Belly

This is known as belly button fat, which makes the stomach appear “thick.” Chronic stress is the most obvious factor leading to a stress belly. On the flip side, it’s also possible that you regularly skip meals, consume a lot of coffee, and overeat unhealthy foods.

Mommy belly

The mom belly shows shortly after giving birth. It sometimes looks like a baby bump.

Why is belly fat bad for you?

Visceral fat has a recognized metabolic activity. It generates hormones and inflammatory compounds that increases the likelihood of developing both type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Visceral fat is suspected of introducing inflammatory cytokines and free fatty acids further into the liver and pancreas because of its proximity to those organs. Having too much abdominal fat increases your risk of:

  • heart conditions
  • cardiac arrest
  • elevated blood pressure
  • stroke
  • breast cancer
  • asthma 
  • mammary cancer
  • colon cancer 
  • dementia

Ways to Reduce Belly Fat

It is important to remove this stomach fat, not just for aesthetic purposes but also to improve one’s health.

  1.   Implement diet improvements. A person can lose fat and improve their general health by eating a good, proper diet.
  2.   Increase physical activity. A healthy amount of exercise helps burn fat and every person’s everyday routine ought to include it.
  3. Expose yourself to more sunlight. According to a 2016 analysis, animals exposed to sunlight have decreased weight and fewer metabolic problems.
  4.   Stress can be a leading factor for weight gain. Techniques for reducing stress include mindfulness and concentration, as well as relaxing activities like yoga.
  5. Work on improving your sleep quality. The main benefits of sleep are that it gives the body time to relax, repair, and regenerate. When attempting to lose weight, particularly excess weight in the belly area, getting enough rest is important.

Get a pregnancy test first:

The best place to start when dealing with your protruding belly is by developing an understanding the sort of belly you have. It is best to get a home pregnancy test if you are a woman who is unsure if you’re pregnant or not.

Stephanie Edenburgh

I'm Steph, a mom to 3 beautiful children and lover all things having to do with my family and being a mom. I've learned a lot raising my own children and working in education and healthcare roles throughout my career. Living in beautiful Southern California I enjoy documenting and writing about all of the hard work us mom's do on a daily basis.

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