Beyoncé caused quite the commotion this week for a would-be conspiracy that some have dubbed “bump-gate.” That’s bump as in “baby bump.” In case you missed it: while appearing on an Australian television show Sunday night, the mom-to-be’s tummy seemed to, well, deflate as she sat down. This led to speculation over whether she was wearing a prosthetic bump.
We know our culture keeps a close eye on celebrities, especially when they’re pregnant, or hoping to get pregnant. But enough is enough: in examining photos of Beyoncé, we have no reason to believe the pop star is wearing a fake bump. Perhaps when she bent over, her dress simply became looser, giving the appearance that her belly was shifting.
And bear in mind: if Beyoncé is, in fact, due sometime in February, as she told her interviewer, her belly may not even be very noticeable yet. She’s somewhere between 20 and 24 weeks pregnant, which means her baby and uterus are not very big; her bump shouldn’t show very much. In our professional opinion as doctors—without having examined her—we think she looks appropriately pregnant at this point.
Curious about the physiology behind it? Women who are pregnant for the first time don’t usually show much during the late second trimester because the rectus muscles—which run vertically down the front of our abs—are still taut, especially in fit people. During the first pregnancy in particular, they help to support the uterus, and prevent it from popping out quickly or dramatically. Once a woman has a baby, the rectus muscles become more relaxed, so the uterus pops out more quickly and appears bigger. These muscles continue to weaken with each pregnancy, giving some women the appearance that they’re carrying a basketball under their shirts.
And no two women’s bumps may look alike. A woman’s height and the length of her torso will determine how much she shows when she’s pregnant. Taller women with long torsos may show less, while shorter women may show more. The amount of weight a woman gains will also influence how much she shows (women who gain more may show more, and those who gain less may show less). Finally, if a woman is carrying a larger baby, she will, of course, show more than if she’s carrying a smaller baby.
Which brings us back to Beyoncé, and how silly it is to speculate on her pregnancy. We hope that fans will let her enjoy this special and sensitive time—and refrain from asking her to defend how large or small or real or fake-looking her bump may be.