I'm currently 16 weeks pregnant. My doctor gave me a ultrasound at 13 weeks and everything is progressing as expected. According to the pictures I've seen of women at 16 weeks, the baby is still in the pelvis area so it makes sense that my belt area is expanding. But what concerns me is that my upper abdominal area is also expanding (as if the baby has already moved up into the abdominal cavity). This is making me look farther along than I think I should at this point. Could this be a combination of constipation, bloating, organs moving around, and weight gain? Or is this a sign of something serious. It is almost as if everything has shifted up!
I get this question quite frequently!
As you say, upper abdominal distension can be from gas, constipation, or weight gain. Women who have had babies before often notice that they "show" earlier in subsequent pregnancies—probably because the abdominal muscles aren't what they used to be. Also, moms-to-be often improve their diet, increasing milk products, fruits, vegetables, and fiber, all of which can cause gas. On top of that, the pregnancy hormone progesterone causes constipation, adding to the buildup of abdominal contents.
Serious causes for abdominal bloating in pregnancy are really rare. Your doctor or midwife should be able to talk to you about your symptoms and physical examination, and make specific recommendations to you on steps you can take to be more comfortable. Pretty soon your uterus will grow to your upper abdomen, and your appearance will more closely match your gestation.