Pregnant Belly Vs Belly Fat: How Do I Know?

You’re almost ready for your day; you just need to zip up your pants. But when you try to do it, it gets stuck. Your mind goes all over the place: “Am I gaining weight?” and if you’re sexually active, “Am I pregnant?”

Well, it can be hard to tell which is which. Regardless, there are a few ways to note the difference between a pregnant belly vs belly fat, even if you can’t take a pregnancy test for whatever reason.

Pregnant Belly

As you may already know, a pregnant belly has a baby growing inside of it. The fetus is growing, so the belly stretches and… a pregnant belly! 

The shape and size of a pregnant woman’s belly differ from woman to woman. It’s more dependent on your body shape and structure than the baby. So there is no need for you to compare your pregnant belly with another’s.

Still, if you are yet to be certain that you have a pregnant belly, you should consider what a pregnant belly should look and feel like, for instance.

What Does a Pregnant Belly Look Like?

As I earlier stated, a pregnant belly results from the growth of a fetus in your body. That means that the growth is not directly on your stomach but due to factors happening on the inside.

As the fetus grows, it stretches the stomach, so your stomach should feel rather tight. Not rock hard, but just tight to the touch. There’s typically no excess fat coming on there, so this is what you should look for.

However, a tight stomach is not a clear indication of pregnancy as it may just be a case of bloating. So, you’ll want to look at some other signs that typically indicate pregnancy, even in the early stages.

How Do You Know If You’re Pregnant?

So, I probably should tell you that the surest way to determine if you’re pregnant is with a home pregnancy test and a subsequent visit to the doctor. I, however, understand that, for one reason or the other, you may not be ready to take that step. 

In those cases, here are some symptoms that point towards your increased stomach size as a pregnant belly.

1.Missed Period

This has to be one of the most talked about pregnancy symptoms. Once you conceive, your period stops because of the hormones your body starts producing. These hormones stop ovulation and the lining of the uterus in your body.

If you monitor and have regular periods, it should be easy to tell when you’ve missed one. However, if you don’t and have irregular periods, it may be a bit tougher to tell when a period doesn’t come.

2. Morning Sickness

It’s called morning sickness, but it certainly can happen at any time during the day. It involves numerous bouts of vomiting and nausea associated with pregnancy. Morning sickness can start happening as early as two weeks into the pregnancy.

Although not everyone experiences this symptom while pregnant, and in some cases, the nausea is not accompanied by vomiting.

3.Change In Bathroom Visits

If you’re pregnant, the number of times you visit the bathroom may change. You may develop constipation or start peeing much more frequently. Frequent urination is a result of an increase in your blood supply, which leads the kidneys to dispose of the extra waste.

Whereas an increase in progesterone causes your intestinal muscles to relax, thereby slowing down bowel movement. This results in constipation during pregnancy.


This is another symptom that happens thanks to the hormone progesterone. Lots of pregnant women feel overly tired and sleep often. So, if you find this accompanying your big tummy, you may just have a pregnant belly.

The fatigue typically reduces when you get to your second trimester, at about 14 weeks of pregnancy. But it can come back again in the third trimester.

5.Tender or Swollen Breasts

In the early stages of pregnancy, your breasts may start to get tender and sore. It may feel similar to the way your breasts are before a period, but more so. Your areola may also darken and enlarge.

The discomfort is only temporary and will go away as your body adjusts to the increased hormones. Your bras may also get tighter as the size of your breasts may increase.

6.Spotting and Cramps

In the early stages of your pregnancy, when the fetus is implanted in your womb, it may result in light bleeding. A few spots here and there. However, light spotting may happen at the start of your period when your body is trying to get rid of bad blood or toxins.

It is not uncommon to get cramps during pregnancy. You may get these cramps in your stomach, back, or any other area of your body.

Fat Belly

Moving on to the next possibility, the fat belly. As much as pregnancy is a possibility, it’s only if you’re sexually active. Otherwise, the chances of your stomach increasing belly fat are high.

What Is Belly Fat?

Belly fat usually results from weight gain or a few other factors like lack of exercise, poor diet, or stress. The fat may be visceral (surrounding your organs) or subcutaneous (beneath your skin).

What Does Belly Fat Look Like?

Belly fat feels and looks somewhat like the opposite of a pregnant belly. Belly fat is typically squishy and soft to feel since it happens as a result of fat build-up. If you look closely, you will see that belly fat sags to a good extent, folds, and can be held between your palms.

How To Reduce Belly Fat

Belly fat may not always be a favorable indication, especially when the fat accumulates solely in your belly. Most women develop fat elsewhere as they gain weight, such as in the thighs. It can also increase the risk of health complications.

Here are some ways for you to get rid of that pesky belly fat.


If you want to lose belly fat, one of your first steps should be to step up your exercise routine. A sedentary lifestyle increases the chances of weight gain and even more health complications. You can either do both aerobic and strength training exercises to curb your belly fat or speak to a fitness trainer.

Fix your diet

Next up is the kind of meals you eat. You may need to cut down on your intake of junk foods and refined carbohydrates. Increase the number of fruits and vegetables in your food as it can help with weight loss and give overall good health.

Get enough sleep

You must have heard about how sleep is important. Well, it’s pretty accurate because if you want to have a healthy lifestyle, you need sleep. Sleep can help maintain healthy body weight and aid indirectly in the loss of belly fat.

Reduce stress

When you get stressed, a hormone called cortisol is released. This hormone increases your appetite and results in weight gain, including belly fat. So, you may need to try some gentle exercises or mindfulness tactics to reduce your stress levels.

Quit smoking and reduce your alcohol intake.

Smoking and hefty alcohol consumption can cause an increase in abdominal fat. Smoking also poses a risk factor for many other serious health problems, while the sugar content in alcohol can increase your belly fat. So, to improve your overall health, it is best to quit smoking and limit alcohol intake.

How To Tell The Difference Between A Fat Belly Vs. A Pregnant Belly

A pregnant belly is likely to start developing at about 12 weeks into the pregnancy. Regardless, you can take a look at the appearance and feel of your stomach to tell which one it is. A pregnant belly is firm and round, whereas belly fat is soft and sags.

You also want to watch for any symptoms that may indicate pregnancy. If your stomach increase is accompanied by this, then it is likely that you have a pregnant belly. Also, you may not notice weight gain in other parts of your body during pregnancy.

A fat belly is usually accompanied by fat developing in other parts of the body. One such place is a woman’s thighs, so check to see if you have fat accumulating there as well. If so, then it is likely to be belly fat.

Observe yourself for some time before concluding though, because several other factors can result in a “pregnant belly” aside from pregnancy.


Several factors could lead to belly fat as well as a pregnant belly. If you are still not certain after checking all the symptoms, then I would advise you to go see a gynecologist. Or take a pregnancy test so you can rule out pregnancy or otherwise confirm it.

Also note that pregnancy is less likely to show in obese women, so a trip to the doctor may be necessary in that case.

Did you ever face a situation where you were unsure about the cause of your belly size increase? What did you do? Let me know in the comments.

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