'I felt guilty': why some women's pregnancy bumps are smaller than others

Ineke making her pregnancy announcement at 21 weeks. Photos: Supplied
Ineke making her pregnancy announcement at 21 weeks. Photos: Supplied 

Ineke McMahon was 21 weeks pregnant when she shared an image of herself, on her motorbike, holding up a baby onesie, to let everyone know she was having a baby.

Up until that point, nobody could tell she was having a baby, as her belly wasn't even slightly rounded. 

Despite been sick for the first 12 weeks, her pregnancy had been "relatively easy" and she'd been looking forward to getting a baby belly. 

Ineke with baby Alice.
Ineke with baby Alice. Photo: Supplied

"No one knew that I was pregnant unless I told them," Ms McMahon said.

"I had been looking forward to it (having a baby bump), and it definitely felt like I 'wasn't pregnant' a lot of the time."

She said lots of people commented on it which was "weird" for her.

"There were two other ladies in my office that were pregnant at the same time and lots of people keep remarking that I didn't even look pregnant. I laughed it off for the most part," she said.

"I felt a bit guilty sitting in the pregnancy seats on the bus or the train and people would give me weird looks. My doctor had told me though that it's not for the fact that you are tired, it's to make sure that you are sitting down should anything go wrong." 

Although at about 24 weeks she "popped out", she hadn't been worried about the size of her belly.


"Both my husband and I are tall – he is six foot three (and a very big guy) and I am five foot 11," she said.

"My doctor said that as long as the baby was growing and measuring well not to be concerned.  

"Alice (who was born in May 2018) was eight and a half pounds at birth."

Ms McMahon said it was best for people not to comment on a woman's belly. 

"You have no idea about the pregnancy journey for the person," she said.

"It's best just to express happiness for the person. Being pregnant is a blessing. Be happy!"

Obstetrician gynaecologist and fertility specialist Dr Devini Ameratunga said all baby bumps were different.

"Everyone's body is different and reflects the differences in bumps or how they show their pregnancy," Dr Ameratunga said.

"Often taller women may show later due to increased torso length and vice versa with shorter women, for instance. 

"Due to the mother, due to baby's position, due to the size of the baby. There are many different reasons why bumps are so different!"

The size of a woman's baby bump does not give a true reflection of how the baby's growing.

"Rarely the visual size of the bump would be an indicator of a baby who is too small or early, but this is a very poor guide to actual size," she said.

"We know that even with measuring the size of the bump with a measuring tape (like the doctor or midwife would do at an appointment) is not very accurate and differs from person to person. 

"Baby's position in utero can also affect the shape and size."

And she said it's best to never comment on a woman's belly.

"Women may be worried about many factors during their pregnancy, especially if it was difficult to conceive or there are pregnancy complications. A variety of factors can impact on a woman's emotional wellbeing and add to stress," she said.

"I don't think it is helpful to comment on a size of a woman's bump due to the mentioned reasons. 

"Even more importantly, a woman can have a large abdomen for various other reasons other than pregnancy."