5 things to know about baby bump size & maternity photos
From the time that pregnancy test is positive, most mamas-to-be are smoothing shirts over their stomaches, looking for the first hint of a baby bump. When you’re over the moon to be expecting, you can’t wait for that unmistakable sign to show the world that you’re about to be a mama.
For first-time moms, it sometimes takes longer than you’d like to pop and finally, finally look pregnant! So how do you know when it’s time to schedule maternity photos and celebrate your baby? No worries, mama – these simple tips will guarantee a gorgeous, visible baby bump for your maternity photos!
Q: When will I start to show?
Every mama’s body responds differently to pregnancy, so there isn’t a hard and fast rule about when you’ll pop. However, there are some general guidelines:
If you’re on the leaner, petite side, your bump will be visible sooner than curvier mamas.
Most likely, before 12 weeks, what you’re seeing as you pull your shirt tight over your tummy isn’t a baby bump – it’s just bloat, a wonderful side effect of pregnancy. In fact, by this point, your baby is just the size of a plum and only three inches long.
Once the second trimester rolls around, it’s prime time for evidence of a baby bump. At 14 weeks, your tiny cherry-sized baby has graduated to a peach. As your uterus grows to accomodate baby, you’ll start to show.
By 23 weeks, your sweetie is as big as an eggplant – and could even reach watermelon-status by 40 weeks!
If your uterus tilts forward, you’ll show sooner. If your uterus tilts toward your back, it might take a few more weeks till you’re showing off an adorable bump! In my experience, first-time mamas show a little later than women who’ve had at least one pregnancy.
Q: How do I know if my baby bump is too small for a maternity photo session?
So many first-time mamas that I’ve worked with have worried about not looking “pregnant enough” for photos. You might have a barely-there bump that only you can see, so the concern absolutely makes sense!
Keep in mind that every week, your body grows and changes a little more. At 16 weeks, you might not look pregnant unless you’re wearing tight-fitting clothing; by 20+ weeks, you just might be fitting into those maternity jeans nicely!
Q: When should I schedule a maternity photography session?
I suggest that all mamas start looking into maternity photography sessions early in their second trimesters. This will give you plenty of time to find a photographer whose style you love, get your photo session booked and figure out your wardrobe, all without feeling rushed.
I photograph maternity sessions anywhere from 28-35ish weeks pregnant (30 weeks max for multiples). This is the sweet spot when mamas have a cute bump, but you’re not dealing with swelling hands and feet yet. Baby usually isn’t too heavy, and your energy level hasn’t taken the infamous late-third-trimester plunge.
To narrow dates down a little further, I try to get first-time mamas on my calendar when they’re about 32 weeks along. The 32 week mark usually guarantees a huggable bump that will show up in photos!
For mamas who are pregnant after having a kiddo or two (or three!), I usually suggest a date on the earlier side: 28-30 weeks, if possible. We will still have a good window of time for photos in case illness or the weather force us to reschedule.
Keep in mind, in the era of COVID-19, many photographers are taking considerable precautions to prevent the spread of germs – especially if they photograph pregnant women and newborns. Currently I’m scheduling just one session per day, which means mamas who inquire about sessions earlier stand a better chance of getting on my calendar within the ideal date range.
If a mama contacts me at 32 weeks for maternity photos, there’s a good chance I’m already booked until after her baby is born. Most of my clients spend a few weeks deciding on wardrobe, in addition to scheduling professional hair and makeup. I don’t want this process to be rushed for you! Maternity photography a big box to check off your motherhood to-do list, and I want to help you enjoy every aspect of your experience.
Q: Do I need a “basketball baby bump” for pretty photos?
I’ve photographed countless baby bumps of women of all shapes and sizes. Younger mamas, older mamas, skinny mamas, curvy mamas, tall mamas, shorter mamas… every bump is beautiful!
While I think most mamas-to-be dream of having a perfectly round, all-belly basketball baby bump, it’s perfectly fine if yours doesn’t look like that (yet! or ever!). You might have a smaller bump till very late in pregnancy the first time; but once you hit the final weeks of pregnancy, you won’t feel like doing lots of walking and posing for pretty photos. By this point, you’re just ready to meet your little one and see your feet again.
That’s why I urge mamas to have their photos done no later than the 35 week mark. Part of the fun is the session itself. If you’re feeling weighed down by baby and get swollen feet if you stand longer than 20 minutes, you won’t get quite as much enjoyment out of your maternity session.
We also have to balance bump size against you going into labor before your maternity photos. This doesn’t happen too often, especially with first-time mamas. There’s always a chance that your water will break before you’ve hit 40 weeks. That’s why I prefer to have expectant mamas on my calendar way before there’s a chance of labor.
Q: How can I make sure I actually look pregnant in my maternity photos, with a bump to show off?
There are two important aspects of ensuring a beautiful baby bump in your maternity photos: wardrobe and posing.
This is true no matter how many times you’ve been pregnant, how far along you are, the shape of your body or how you’re carrying baby.
I share with my clients three key guidelines for stunning maternity photos; if you follow these tips, you’ll have a bump to show off and you’ll love your photos!
Wear a dress or skirt that is floor-length
This is SUPER important to ensuring your bump is the center of attention in every photo! When you wear a floor-length dress or skirt, you remove distractions that take away from your bump.
We don’t want your shoes or your hot pink toes to take away from the baby bump. I absolutely appreciate adorable shoes and a fresh pedi, but those aren’t important elements in your maternity session. For this session, your bump and your pretty face should be the center of attention in every single image.
Here’s a first time mama who was worried about her bump being too small to photograph. You can see she’s absolutely gorgeous, and her first-time-mama-bump is totally visible in both of these images.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t ever wear a shorter dress in maternity photos! I suggest my clients have at least one long gown or dress, and then we can change it up with a shorter option.
Bottom line: If your bump is on the smaller side, a long dress is always a better option to keep the focus on baby.
Solid colors are the best way to highlight a smaller bump
I always worry that my clients get sick of hearing me repeat the same tips over and over: long dress! solid colors!
But I repeat them because these guidelines hold true for every mama, no matter where we shoot your session.
Solid colors will photograph beautifully in an arboretum full of bright flowers, or in a field in winter with mostly brown tones.
The mama pictured above was also concerned about her bump being too small to show up in photos. As you can see, she looks amazing – and she’s clearly expecting (for the first time, too!).
Even though she’s surrounded by brightly colored flowers, her bump still steals the show because a solid color also removes distracting elements. If she’d had on a dress with a loud print or pattern, I’d never photograph her here. It would make the photo much too busy, and we’d risk the bump getting lost.
Don’t think that solid colors means your dress has to be boring! You can see the lace details on Tori’s dress, and they add visual interest without distracting from her baby bump.
Sometimes my clients are set on wearing a dress with a print or pattern, and we can make it work. I photograph these mamas places where the background isn’t as colorful or distracting; or, they can wear a patterned dress, in addition to a solid-colored option.
That’s exactly what second-time-mama Jenny did for her maternity session! She wore two solid-colored gowns from my client closet, in addition to one print dress of her own. In the right photo, she’s walking by the exact same bright flowers in the photo above of the mama in navy. I just made sure the bright colors weren’t so dominant, given Jenny’s print dress.
Posing also plays an important role!
I give clients guidelines for how to pose in every single photo during maternity sessions. We always do two things: pop the knee closest to the camera and have at least one hand on the bump.
Popping the knee closest to the camera enhances pregnancy curves and is much more flattering for any woman, pregnant or not, than standing with both knees locked.
To kick off every maternity session, I stand next to my clients and model exactly how she should pop her leg and hold her bump. Once we’re worked together for a bit and I can see she’s comfortable, I can simply give verbal posing prompts.
In every photo during a maternity session, mama will have at least one hand on her bump. Maternity photos are the only time you want your hands anywhere near your stomach. It’s a universal sign of pregnancy. There are even certain ways you can hold your bump to enhance its visibility if needed!
With the leg closest to the camera popped and at least one hand on her bump, you can see Tori’s beautiful curves above. Her images are timeless and elegant.
Most clients prefer sessions that aren’t terribly posed; you don’t want to feel like a statue and look unnatural in your images. That’s why my system of posing for maternity sessions is so critical to getting gorgeous shots. I want to show you and your husband as you really are – two people in love and ready to welcome a little one! There are many ways to do this in beautiful, natural ways that highlight the baby bump!
Checking maternity photography off your motherhood to-do list
Having maternity photos done is a huge mama-to-be milestone! This is such a great opportunity to embrace motherhood and share beautiful images with loved ones. You’re also making lovely memories to show your children some day.
The first time you’re pregnant, it can seem like there’s so much to know about pregnancy, newborns, being a mom, breastfeeding, soothing, swaddling, etc.
Your maternity photography session shouldn’t feel like one more complicated thing you have to worry about. I want to make this one aspect of becoming a mama very simple – and fun, too!
My Celebrate Motherhood magazine goes out to every mama who books with me. It comes in print and digital versions, and inside you’ll find everything you need to know for incredible photos you’ll love for a lifetime. Here’s a quick peek inside:
In fact, I just released the fall/winter 2020 version, and it includes:
- wardrobe advice for everyone in your family, for every session
- posing descriptions + photos so you’ll know exactly what to expect during maternity & newborn sessions
- how and when to feed your newborn on the day of your newborn session to guarantee a sleeping, peaceful baby
- how I work with toddlers and big kids to get them engaged with baby safely during your newborn session
- contact info for an amazing hair & makeup team who come to you and make you look and feel incredible!
This is just a tiny sample of what’s included in my 56-page magazine! It’s the best, easiest way to plan for maternity and newborn sessions, and it’s only available when you book with me! Let me know when you’re due and I’ll start planning a gorgeous session just for you and your baby!