We all know the countless surprises that come with pregnancy. We hear our baby’s very first heartbeat, feel their tiny kicks, and watch our bellies grow bigger day by day.
Each morning brings changes, discoveries, transformations and yes, its all questions! One popular question that many moms to be have is, “why is my pregnant belly soft when I lay down?”
In this article, we’re going to chat all about what happens when we lay down during pregnancy. Also, why our bellies feel different, and what this means for you and your baby.
Is it normal to have soft belly during pregnancy?
It’s absolutely normal to have a soft belly during pregnancy. There are a number of factors that can affect how firm your belly is, and even the size and shape of it.
In your first trimester, your belly is typically softer. But as it progresses into the second trimester (around the 18th to 20th week), it becomes somewhat harder because it’s growing and expanding.
Of course, your uterus has to expand to accommodate your growing belly, and that will also cause your belly to feel hard and tight.
However, this hardness can fluctuate throughout the day due to factors like gas, uterine contractions, baby’s movements – we will discuss them in detail in the subsequent section.
So, if you’re experiencing a soft belly, especially when lying down, and overthinking it, then you should stop worrying, because it is completely normal.
Why is my pregnant belly soft when I lay down?
Pregnant women may notice their belly getting soft when they lay down. This softness can be matched to a number of factors. Let’s explore them..
1. Baby’s movement
The first on the list is the baby’s positioning. The position and movement of your baby inside the womb can greatly affect how your belly feels, including when it gets softer as you lay down.
Babies are consistently moving in there – stretching, kicking, and shifting their positions. When your baby settles into a certain position, especially when they nestle into the back part of your womb or lower down into your pelvis, it can cause belly to feel very soft.
Additionally because your baby floats in the amniotic fluid inside the uterus, their position can change anytime. Therefore when you lay down, the distribution of fluid also changes which might result in your belly feeling softer.
2. Uterus expansion
Throughout pregnancy, your uterus experiences significant expansion to accommodate your growing baby. This expansion will increase the overall firmness of your belly when you stand up because of your body’s vertical alignment.
Standing will also ensure a more equal distribution of the uterus’ weight along with its contents, your baby and the amniotic fluid, and thence make your belly harder.
On the other hand when you lay down, the situation changes. Your belly feels softer compared to when you stand, simply because the weight distribution shifts.
The weight of your uterus and its contents spread out in a horizontal direction, rather than bearing down onto your pelvic area. This change will make your belly feel softer comparing to when you’re standing..
3. Gastrointestinal issues:
Gastrointestinal issues such as Bloating, gas and constipation can also contribute to your belly feeling soft when you lay down. It’s normal for your body to increase gas production in pregnancy because of the changes in your hormones and digestive processes.
But in due time these gases accumulates in your intestines, and so whenever you lie down, it spreads out, leading to a softer sensation in your belly.
Constipation will also cause a build-up of stool in your intestines making belly harder. In contrast, when you lie down, intestines shifts slightly, potentially relieving some pressure, and making your belly feel softer.
4. Braxton Hicks contractions:
These contractions are also known as “practice contractions” or “false labor”. They contribute to the reasons your belly feels firmer sometimes and softer when you lay down.
You’ll mostly experience them during your second or third trimester where your uterus tightens and relaxes. So, when your uterus tightens, your belly is likely to feel harder.
Consequently, when contraction passes and it relaxes, your belly may feel softer. Therefore, if you’re experiencing these contractions while standing and they pass as you lay down, you’d notice a transition from a harder to softer belly.
5. Actual labor contractions
When its time for your actual labor, your womb would contract and make your belly feel hard. Contractions during labor are however different for every woman and can range from feeling like menstrual cramps to waves of tightening across the belly.
When you lay down during this time, contractions might potentially slow down, and their intensity lessens.
Now, assuming contractions gets less intense when you’re laying down, your pregnant belly definitely gets softer too, as compared to the hardness during stronger contractions.
However, the effects vary for every woman, as every woman’s body responds differently to labor.
6. Stomach and uterus ligament stretch:
While on this journey, the round ligaments, which supports your womb, stretches to accommodate the growing fetus. The expansion can sometimes cause a temporary hardening of your stomach, especially when you move or change positions.
However, when you lay down, the ligaments and the muscles around your womb may relax to give a softer feel to your belly.
Also, the horizontal position of your body when you lay down can lower the strain on these ligaments, and cause your belly to feel soft when pregnant.
Why does my pregnant belly feel soft when I sit down?
When you sit down, the position of your body changes, which might make your belly feel softer. This usually happens because of the redistribution of amniotic fluid or if baby shifts its position.
Other times too, it may feel soft because that’s typically where the bladder is, which receives pressure when sitting. Aside these, other factors like gas or bloating, hormonal changes, muscle tone, weight gain can cause it.
Is it normal for the bottom of your stomach to be soft during pregnancy?
Yes, it is normal for the bottom of your stomach to be soft during pregnancy. Several factors may cause your pregnant belly to feel flabby at the bottom, and they include:
- Pre-pregnancy body,
- Position of your uterus and the baby,
- Specific trimester you are in,
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Weight gain and
- Braxton hicks contractions.
When should my stomach harden during pregnancy?
Your stomach may begin to harden as your womb continues expanding to accommodate your growing baby. Most women happen to have their bellies hardened somewhere around their 12th and 18th week.
In the second trimester, starting around the 20th week of your pregnancy, the whole belly may feel harder due to the significant expansion, and this continues to the third trimester, getting even harder.
Where does the stomach start to harden during pregnancy?
You’d generally notice the hardness first in the area where your uterus is located – in the lower abdomen.
As the baby grows and uterus continues expanding, the hardness moves upwards and sticks throughout the pregnancy.
But does the stomach get soft before labor?
During the final stages or your last trimester, there can be various changes to your body because it’s preparing for labor.
Your belly won’t get any softer before labor. Instead, your body will produce several other signs that labor is approaching. Some of these signs include;
- Weight loss
- Increased back pain
- Loss of mucus plug
- Sensation of baby dropping
What are the changes that happens to stomach while pregnant?
Here’s a basic guideline on what you should expect at each month on your journey.
|Month||Belly changes||Belly rigidity|
|1||No visible changes, your baby is too small for any noticeable difference||soft|
|2||No significant changes, although uterus is still expanding||soft|
|3||Some women may start to show a Small bump, but usually not noticeable to others||hard|
|4||Belly starts to look rounded. Some mothers begin to show||hard|
|5||The abdomen is obviously rounder. Most mothers will have a noticeable “baby bump” by this time||hard|
|6||The bump rises up higher on your abdomen. Belly feels tighter too||hard|
|7||The belly feels larger and firmer. Braxton Hicks contractions (“practice” contractions) may begin||hard|
|8||Belly feels heavy and sits high. The skin may feel stretched and itchy||hard|
|9||Belly is large and tight. As the baby drops into the pelvis, the shape of the belly can change||Hard but soft when baby drops|
Why does my stomach hurt when I lay down while pregnant?
While it’s normal to experience slight stomach pains when you lay down sometimes, it’s always important to discuss with your OB/GYN any severe or persistent pain.
Some types of pain could indicate a problem that needs immediate medical attention. However, some reasons your stomach hurts when you lay down in pregnancy include;
- Digestion issues – Pregnancy hormones can cause digestive problems and slow digestion. This can lead to indigestion and cause discomfort when you lay down.
- Abdominal cramps – Your uterus is stretching considerably which may cause your tummy to hurt, especially when lying down.
- Round ligament pain – The ligaments in your pelvis that holds your uterus in place stretches as your belly grows. This may cause slight discomfort when you lay down or even change positions.
- Placenta abruption – In rare cases, placenta may separate from the uterus before your baby is born. This will cause constant pain with very less relief. If you’re experiencing such pain then you should reach out to your doctor immediately.
Why does my pregnant belly look smaller some days?
You can feel your belly gets smaller some days for some reasons like
- Bloating – The consumption of certain food types can cause you to bloat and give you the impression of having a bigger belly. In contrast, after you’re relieved and bloating goes, your belly gets back smaller.
- Baby’s position – Depending on how your little one has positioned itself sometimes, you may think your belly is smaller or larger.
- Abdominal muscles – If you have stronger or more toned abdominal muscles, your belly may appear smaller, especially during your first pregnancy.
- Time of the day – Your belly might seem smaller in the morning due to less fluid retention compared to the end of the day.
- Number of pregnancies – If this is your second or subsequent pregnancy, then you might observe fluctuations in the size of your belly, because your abdmoninal muscles might stretch more as compared to women in their first pregnancy.
So, experiencing a soft pregnant belly when you lay down is very normal and happens due to the aforementioned physiological reasons.
But remember that every pregnancy is different and so what you may consider normal won’t be the same for another woman.
If the softness of your belly is causing some discomforts or consistent pain, then you should reach out to your doctor immediately.
Your doctor is always available to give you personalized advices while on this journey.