Why Does My Belly Get Hard And Then Soft During Pregnancy? Is It Normal?

The pregnant belly that goes hard and soft, small and big, is just another normal day in your pregnancy. You may encounter hardening of your belly along with cramps and back pain from time to time. It happens as the fetus began to push its way around your uterus and stomach wall. Sometimes, the baby’s shifting position also makes it possible that you cannot seem to feel your pregnancy at all.

But when the hardening of your stomach comes with severe pain, bleeding, vaginal discharge, and cold flashes, consult your doctor immediately. It can be a warning sign of underlying conditions like high sugar levels, preeclampsia, or miscarriage.

Causes of pregnancy changes in your belly

Imagine how your little one starts occupying the cramped-up space in your tummy. As the fetus grows bigger, it puts more pressure on your abdominal area. It also pushes against your skin to give the feeling of firmness that doesn’t stay long.

That’s because pregnancy hormones tend to mitigate the situation and soften your belly. So it is normal for moms to experience the fluctuation of stiffness with their pregnancy.

But your baby, uterus, and hormones alone are not the only variables involved in your tummy’s rigidness.

If you are active or when your bladder is full, you can also feel some changes in your belly.

Here are other factors that may affect your pregnancy appearance and touch.

1. Digestive changes

Constipation, bloating, diarrhea, gas – moms go around these series of digestive episodes throughout the pregnancy. Don’t worry though, it is not always about something you eat that causes the problem.

During pregnancy, your progesterone level spikes up and slows down your digestive processes while accumulating gas. Thus, you appear bloated on top of the pregnancy, which also affects the softness and rigidness of your belly.

Eating a high-fiber diet and avoiding carbonated drinks may help minimize the hardness of your pregnancy belly.

2. Just pregnancy weight gain

A pregnancy belly is normally soft in the first trimester. But your gradual pregnancy weight gain that becomes apparent in the second trimester may cause minor changes. That pregnancy hunger and cravings may already show their effect on your body.

The excess fat would build up in your tummy, giving you the feeling of tightness around the area.

3. Pressure around the stomach

Babies do not stay in place and continuously shift their position inside your tummy. Thus, there are days you will wake up with a softer and smaller pregnancy belly.

When they push against your abdominal muscles, you can feel the stiffness and tightening around the area. There is nothing you can do nor worry about since it is just another special thing about your baby.

4. Braxton hicks contraction

Braxton hicks or false contractions are the body’s preparation for labor. However, it does not necessarily indicate labor when experienced in the early pregnancy.

It is painless cramping and tightening of the muscles around your belly that occurs irregularly and infrequently. It occurs at the beginning of the pregnancy but not in the second trimester.

Braxton hicks’ contraction that happens in the late pregnancy that is frequent and pressing indicates pre-labor.


Is stomach pain normal after eating in pregnancy?

Overeating may cause stomach pain as well as sleeping after eating. It is normal, and the best way to avoid it is by avoiding large meals or drinking carbonated drinks. You can read more about it in this article.

How will I know that my contractions already mean labor?

The tightness in your belly that doesn’t go away is an indication of labor. It will also become tighter each time a regular and strong contraction occurs.

There will be bloody mucus discharges and a trickle of water (or a gushing one) which means that the amniotic fluid already breaks.


Pregnancy is unique to every woman, and every baby offers a different experience to a mother. When strange things happen in the current pregnancy that she did not experience from the previous, she naturally worries.

It is time for a doctor consultation when you suffer from unmanageable pain, leaking fluid, or tummy size that never changes. Otherwise, the fluctuations in your belly are natural and a good indication of a developing bouncing baby.

Ann Marie is a licensed nurse in the Philippines. She experienced handling and assisting deliveries of newborns into the world. She also trained in labor rooms and pediatric wards while in nursing school - helping soon-to-be mothers and little kids in the process. Though not a mother by nature but a mother by heart, Ann Marie loves to take care of her younger cousins as well as nephews and nieces during her free time.

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