Neat and very petite, big and blooming,
pear-shaped, sitting high or swinging low
— baby bumps come in all shapes and
Former Strictly star Kristina Rihanoff was
recently pictured sporting an enormous
bump, far larger than might be expected
for her petite 5ft 3in frame.
Then there’s Hannah Bagshawe, the wife
of Oscar-winning actor Eddie Redmayne,
who showed a remarkably small, curved
stomach just weeks before giving birth to
the couple’s first daughter, Iris, last
So why do expectant mothers look so
very different, even at the same stage in
their pregnancy? And what does the
shape of their bump mean?
If you believe the old wives’ tales, a neat
bump that sits high on the stomach
means you’re having a boy, while a low,
rounded bump that spreads over the
waist and hips is a girl.
But experts say this is nonsense – a bump
tells you far more about the woman than
the weight or gender of her child.
‘Babies vary in shape and size, but
nowhere near as enormously as bumps
do,’ explains Sarah Fox, policy adviser at
the Royal College of Midwives. ‘The bump
of a 10lb baby can look smaller than that
of a 6lb baby, depending on the shape of
the mother’s body.’
So what exactly can you tell about a
woman from her bump?
Using pictures taken during the third
trimester (seven to nine months) of their
pregnancy, we’ve compiled the ultimate
celebrity bump guide…
Short women often appear to have larger,
more protruding bumps than taller
women, as slight Strictly star Kristina
Rihanoff, 38, whose baby is due in under
a month, shows.
This isn’t due to the size of her unborn
child, though muscly partner Ben Cohen
is unlikely to have fathered a tiny baby,
but rather the length of her torso.
A short torso means there is less room
for the uterus to grow upwards between
the pelvis and the ribs, so it has no option
but to expand outwards as the baby
grows. In a woman with a longer torso,
the uterus stays narrow and the bump
‘There is simply less room for the bump
to grow if you are short in stature,’
explains Clare Byam-Cook, a midwife and
‘It seems to hang out more and show
earlier in the pregnancy. Shorter women
carry the weight around their hips and
bottom, while taller women carry their
baby more to the front,’ she adds.
Being noticeably over- or under-weight
can have a bearing. If her BMI is less
than 18.5 or over 30, a pregnant woman
is at risk of complications such as high
Actress Emily Blunt, 33, remained
remarkably slender during her pregnancy
this year, appearing to gain very little
weight at all when carrying daughter
Experts say her slight frame may account
for her very neat, self-contained bump,
shown here at seven months in April.
‘Celebrities are subject to such close
scrutiny that many continue to control
their diet and watch their weight when
they’re pregnant,’ says Clare.
Even when they are close to giving birth,
their limbs and bottom will still appear
‘Some women gorge on food, putting on
lots of weight around their thighs and
middles,’ says Clare. ‘As they get
physically bigger, so does their bump,
which can contain a lot of fat.’
Tests show a woman’s bump is
significantly smaller for her first baby
than later pregnancies.
Actress Isla Fisher, 40, married to comic
Sacha Baron Cohen, is a case in point.
Her first bump, in 2007, was small; her
second in 2010 larger, and her third in
2015, carrying baby Montgomery,
This is down to pregnancy hormones and
As soon as a woman gets pregnant, her
levels of the female hormone
progesterone increase. This, in turn,
causes bloating and may make the
stomach swell long before the womb has
increased in size. This happens more
quickly in second and third pregnancies.
A swelling uterus also causes abdominal
muscles and ligaments to stretch, and
though these constrict again after the
birth, they’re left permanently loose. This
means they’re more elastic the second
‘The abdomen can become more
pendulous after the first baby, making the
bump appear bigger,’ explains Angela
Cook, a midwife with 24 years’
If a woman is in peak physical condition –
with a toned, taut tummy and pronounced
abs – this stops her bump from sticking
The Duchess of Cambridge, seen here
pregnant with Princess Charlotte,
displayed a very petite bump – even
though it was her second baby – and she
has her athletic physique to thank.
‘Fitter women carry the bump higher and
closer than women who are less fit,’ says
‘If your muscles are more lax, the bump
can appear lower and broader.’
Parental build is often linked to a baby’s
birth weight, and many women think it
accounts for their bump’s shape and size.
Dannii Minogue, 44, had a huge bump
while pregnant with baby Ethan, now five,
in 2010, which many attributed to the
burly genes of her then-partner Kris
Smith, a 6ft 2in ex-rugby pro.
Model Claudia Schiffer, 45, whose
daughter Cosima was born in 2010,
displayed a tiny bump throughout her
three pregnancies – in part, it seemed,
due to her husband, film producer
Matthew Vaughn’s slim build and small
Sarah Fox says the link isn’t
straightforward: ‘Tall parents are likely to
have taller babies, so there is some
‘But a mum who was born weighing 6lb
and a dad who was 10lb won’t
necessarily have an 8lb baby.’
Tradition says you’re having a girl – the
old wives’ tale is that a woman, feeling
more attuned to the same sex child
growing inside her, creates excess fat and
water reserves around her waist, hips and
The reality is that a low bump – as shown
by actress Milla Jovovich, 40, pictured
last year at eight-and-a-half months
pregnant – is becoming more common as
babies get heavier.
In 1970, the average birth weight was 6lb
2oz – today it’s 7lb 5oz, a gain of 20 per
cent. Experts expect another 20 per cent
increase (up to 9lb) in the next decade.
Forget the myth — a high bump doesn’t
mean you’re having a boy, but it says
something about where the baby is inside
As Jacqui Ainsley, 34, wife of film director
Guy Ritchie, showed when she was eight
months’ pregnant with their third child in
2014, some women carry their baby
bump almost directly under their bust.
This shows that the placenta has settled
high up inside the body, causing the baby,
to which it is attached by the umbilical
cord, to move upwards, too.
Instead of a conventional watermelon or ‘D’-shaped baby bump, some women end up with a pear or a ‘B’. Actress Anne Hathaway, pictured at the premiere of The Intern in September 2015 at four months’ pregnant in a black lace gown, had this unusual-shaped bump: a small, subtle curve under the bust and a lower, oval-shaped bump at the abdomen — a shape she maintained throughout her pregnancy. Midwifery expert Sarah Fox says it’s all to do with the position of the baby. ‘Usually, the baby is curled up in a foetal position with its head down, its back towards the woman’s belly button and its legs and arms tucked inside,’ she explains. ‘When you look at the bump, you see a very smooth, round curve. ‘Around a third of babies are positioned so their spine is next to the mother’s spine — known as being “back-to-back”. Their legs and arms face outwards. ‘The bump won’t look lumpy, but it will be a little less smooth.’ This, she adds, will be temporary: babies turn from side to side as often as every day, so the B- shape will come and go. Some people believe you can take one look at a woman’s bump and tell if she’s having one, two or even three babies. There was no hiding the fact that Angelina Jolie, 41, was having twins when she was on the Cannes red carpet with Brad Pitt in 2008: at seven months’ pregnant, she was almost as wide as she is tall. Experts say a woman’s bump will be markedly bigger for multiple births — but not double or triple the size, as might be expected. Nor can onlookers tell how many she’s carrying. Angela Cook says this is because the size of the bump is affected by several factors. ‘Twins may each have their own placenta, as well as their own sac and amniotic fluid — so that could account for it being bigger,’ she says. As these pictures of. actress Kate Hudson, 37, eight months’ pregnant with son Bingham in 2011, and her mother Goldie Hawn, pregnant on her wedding day in 1976, show, a woman’s bump can have a lot to do with her family tree. The rounded curve of the stomach, the even weight gain across the face and bust, the rosy glow and beaming smile – the two, photographed nearly four decades apart, look remarkably similar. So is it a case of like mother, like daughter? Sarah Fox says there’s no scientific evidence of a genetic link between bumps. ‘The shape and size of a bump isn’t something carried across generations – but there are reasons it might look the same,’ she explains. ‘A woman often has the same build and figure as her mother, and her lifestyle may be similar, so there’s a reason their bodies change in the same way.’