My baby is not growing in pregnancy

A growing bump is the sign of a growing baby. Your midwife should start measuring your baby from 24 weeks to make sure they are growing well.

Baby bumps come in all different shapes and sizes. So while it can be difficult, try not to compare your baby bump to anyone else’s. No two women or two pregnancies are the same. Your baby’s health is the main priority and your midwife will measure your baby’s growth as part of your antenatal care to check that everything is OK.

You can talk to your midwife at any time if you are concerned about how your baby is growing.

How is a baby's growth measured in pregnancy?

Your midwife will ask you to lie down and will measure from the top of your bump to the top of your pubic bone using a tape measure. These measurements should be taken at each antenatal visit from around 24 weeks.

The measurement should be within 2cm of the number of weeks you are pregnant. For example, when you're 30 weeks pregnant, your measurement should be somewhere between 28cm and 32cm. This will depend on:

  • your height and weight in early pregnancy
  • how many children you’ve had
  • your ethnicity.

How can the midwife or doctor tell if the baby is not growing?

Your baby’s growth is written in your antenatal notes either as a measurement (written down as fundal height’ (FH) or symphysis-fundal height (SFH)) or plotted on a chart through your pregnancy. This chart can show the midwives if there is a steady incline, no growth or decline in the growth.

Many hospitals are now using personalised growth charts and marking your measurements on these. This makes checks on the baby’s growth more accurate.

You can always ask your midwife if you’d like to know how your baby’s growth is being monitored.

When should I talk to a doctor about my bump not getting bigger in pregnancy?

Call your midwife if you are concerned that your bump isn’t getting bigger and ask for an extra antenatal appointment to be measured.

Call your midwife or maternity unit at the hospital immediately if you feel your bump isn’t getting any bigger AND your baby’s movements have slowed down. Your baby moving normally is a sign that they are well. You should be offered a scan and extra monitoring.

If your measurements are outside of the normal range, or if you still feel worried that your bump is too small, your midwife should recommend an ultrasound scan called a growth scan.

This will show the baby’s growth more clearly. If the scan shows the baby is growing normally, this is more accurate than the measurements.

If the scan shows that your baby isn’t getting bigger you will be referred to a consultant. This means you will have all your antenatal appointments at the hospital and you will see a midwife and a consultant. If they are concerned about your baby’s growth you may have more growth scans.

Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR), also known as fetal growth restriction (FGR)

Intrauterine growth restriction is a condition where the baby’s growth slows or stops during pregnancy. It is often caused by problems with the placenta that restrict oxygen and blood going to your baby. There is no 'treatment' for IUGR. Instead you will have a management plan. If IUGR is suspected, you will have regular scans to look at the baby’s growth. Find out more about intrauterine growth restriction

Being aware of your baby's movements is important

If your midwife or doctor has told you that your baby may not be growing as they should, it is very important to monitor your baby's pattern of movements because they are a sign that your baby is well. If your baby is not getting enough oxygen they may move less to conserve their energy. If you notice a change, report it to your midwife or doctor immediately. Read more about movements here.

 

Sources

Perinantal Institute for Maternal and child health. Fetal Growth https://perinatal.org.uk/FetalGrowth/fetalgrowth.aspx

Sue Macdonald and Gail Johnson (2017) Mayes’ Midwifery, Edinburgh: Baillir̈e Tindall Elsevier

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    Last reviewed on September 28th, 2018. Next review date September 28th, 2018.

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    Comments

    Please note that these comments are monitored but not answered by Tommy’s. Please call your GP or maternity unit if you have concerns about your health or your baby’s health.
    • By Jenny (not verified) on 5 Sep 2019 - 15:52

      Hi Dr please am pregnant,did pt test nagtive,scan can't detect it,what is the cause I need to know!

    • By Angel (not verified) on 10 Aug 2019 - 13:43

      I am 9 weeks pregnant through IVF.. I was told baby stop growing from 5wks6days... I was told to stop all medication. And a repeat scan in a week... Im just confused why repeat scan? What is going on? Should I worry about the baby. If I'm going to miscarriage when is that gonna happen? Am I safe to work and travel while this things are going on?

    • By Bethan (not verified) on 7 Aug 2019 - 15:31

      I went to see my gp today as I've had a cramp that wont shift. (Doesnt hurt but is extremely uncomfortable. )
      He felt my tummy and said that my womb is where it's meant to be at this stage but he couldnt feel my baby.
      I've think I've been feeling baby on and off for a couple of weeks and I felt bubbles in my gut area yesterday which I presumed was baby.
      Is it normal for him not to feel him/her.
      I dont have a scan until next friday so I'm worried

    • By Ruru (not verified) on 25 Jul 2019 - 00:11

      I am 21 weeks and 5 days and just did my MFM scan today and doctor said that my baby is not growing am I loosing my baby?

    • By Orji chinen (not verified) on 30 Jul 2019 - 19:58

      I have same problem,l loosing second times same story pls I need solution

    • By Busisiwe (not verified) on 11 Jul 2019 - 15:55

      Hi there I'm 38 weeks pregnant and I just came from my gynae and i,'m worried about my babies development she weighs 2.2 kg is this normal

    • By Peace Collins (not verified) on 10 Jul 2019 - 07:44

      I am in my 9th month and my baby is not growing but I can feel the kick what should I do

    • By Lizzy (not verified) on 26 Jun 2019 - 20:50

      Hi I'm nine month pregnant and I don't feel baby kicking and my belly look small as if I'm not pregnant what should I do cause I'm worried cause it's my first pregnancy. Also my midwife complain that my baby is not strong enough to be born. Pls I need help

    • By Oge obiora (not verified) on 25 Jun 2019 - 14:55

      Am 5months pregnant and went for my first day Anthe nantal,after doing all d required text,d midwive checked my baby and wrote in my card,not yet well defined, when I met the doctor he checked and said nothing is wrong and I asked him why they wrote is not well defined he said I shldnt worry is bcus the position of the baby is never yet to tell how the baby is positioning am worried

    • By Gloria (not verified) on 24 May 2019 - 13:44

      Hi Mum
      Please I went had a scan and I was told am 5weeks gone so I should come and check 2weeks later,I went today and they are telling me the baby it's not growing and they can't see it well,it's just a little blood that was added to the previous one and am so worried. Please help me

    • By Kyli (not verified) on 17 May 2019 - 22:30

      Hi. My doctor told me today that my babys growth stops at 6 weeks and there is no heart beat . And she told me to wait for one week For bleed. What should i do.

    • By Hira (not verified) on 19 Jul 2019 - 01:46

      Hi there,
      I am 10 weeks pregnant and went for my first ultrasound today and doctor told me exactly same thing that my baby stopped growing at 6 weeks and have no heartbeat.

    • By Rani (not verified) on 18 Oct 2019 - 15:13

      I also have same problem can u tale me please what I do

    • By Md shoeb alam (not verified) on 24 Apr 2019 - 04:54

      Doctor bole wash krwa dene ko but 2 month huye abhi koi growth nhi hua baby ka but ma ka weight increase hua h please help somebody

    • By Caroline (not verified) on 1 Apr 2019 - 15:41

      Hi, I am 33 weeks pregnant and I saw the midwife this morning. My belly is on the small side, but baby's heartbeat was strong. However, at my last scan (28 weeks) baby's femurs were quite short. I have a scan next week but I am a bit worried that baby either is not developing well or has not enough space. I can feel him moving regularly though. Many thanks for your advice

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 22 Mar 2019 - 13:41

      Hi! I'm 13w n5days am I worried my belly still flat as I'm normal like before no symptoms of preg

    • By ZIVA (not verified) on 18 Oct 2019 - 23:48

      Hi, I got 13Ws n 5 days at 9 weeks my gynecologist said my baby stop growing it looks like an early miscarriage so wait about a week or two for my period. After 2 weeks they called me to find out if I had my period I said no. She said come to the office for another check up i went with is, on my 12 Ws had blood test after the scan cause she things changed the baby hcg get back high I went back yesterday she there's nothing inside of me no baby's no blood meaning no period still with nausea and vomiting. Please help me i really don't know what's going on.

    • By Stella (not verified) on 14 Mar 2019 - 20:25

      I am anxious about my first pregnancy and so opted for a private early pregnancy scan. I was 8w+0 but the early scan placed me at 6w+1. I am confused why there's a nearly a 2 week difference as I have pretty regular cycles and was charting ovulation. The CRL measurement was 5.3mm and Fetal Heart Rate was 71 bpm. The heart beat was seen trans abdominal and trans vaginal. I haven't had any spotting or bleeding.

      The sonographer thought these measurements were low and asked me to come back in 7-10 days for another scan. I don't know whether I should save my money and wait for my 12 week scan in 4 weeks. How accurate are early dating scans? How worried should be about the low CRL and FHR measurements?

      Many thanks in advance!

    • By Margaret (not verified) on 8 Mar 2019 - 12:36

      Hi,
      I had an appointment with the GP for a 38weeks check up. My bump has always measured slightly bigger than the week I'm in. But this time it was measuring 36cms the same as at my 36 weeks antenatal appointment. Is that normal or should I be worried? Thank you.

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 8 Mar 2019 - 15:57

      Hi Margaret,
      Measurements can slightly change due to the position of the baby, and it is possible that the baby has moved down and become engaged which can alter the measurements a little. However if the measurements are not showing growth then it would be usual practice to refer for a growth scan and follow up. It is also important that you are happy with your baby's movements, and they have not reduced in anyway. If you are concerned then do contact your maternity unit.
      Best wishes
      Tommy's midwife

    • By Margaret (not verified) on 8 Mar 2019 - 16:06

      Thank you!!

    • By Nokuphiwa (not verified) on 1 Mar 2019 - 02:17

      Hi there first pregnancy I'm 36 weeks preg about to give birth anytime but my midwife has just told me my baby is not growing at all and my belly is very small the last time my baby was 31cm on my 34weeks but now on my 36weeks it went down to 26cm and the movement of the baby are fine

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 1 Mar 2019 - 12:03

      Hi Nokuphiwa,
      It is great to hear that your baby is moving well. However it sounds like, if you have not already your midwife should refer you to the hospital to have a scan straight away to make sure that the baby is growing ok. If this has not been done then do ring the hospital or your midwife.
      Best wishes
      Tommy's midwife

    • By Annabelle Atwill (not verified) on 10 Feb 2019 - 20:14

      I had my annomally scan this week and I've been asked to go back to a rescan. They said her belly isn't filling up and when I initially went in they thought I was having my dating scan as I'm still flat and toned like there isn't even a baby there. What does this all mean she gave me no answers and now worrying. Not sure how much movement I should feel either 4th pregnancy and felt movement really early on but not been as active more movement on night then anything else now. Sorry for long post

    • By Juanita (not verified) on 31 Jan 2019 - 00:31

      Im 25 weeks pregnant and my bump only looks like im 17 weeks pregnant whats going on?

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 31 Jan 2019 - 09:27

      Hi - Thank you for your message.
      If you are worried about the growth of your baby - please discuss with your midwife/GP. They should be measuring and monitoring babies growth during antenatal checks and can advise you on what they have found.

    • By SWEETS (not verified) on 30 Jan 2019 - 22:22

      I have 3 boys my first was born at 37 weeks natural birth, 2nd had FGR born at 34 weeks weighed 1.4kg and 3rd I had preeclampsia born at 30 weeks and 780gram. Worried is an understatement of how I feel. At 11 weeks there is no change whatsoever to myself I have seen the midwives and wanting for my first scan. Should I be worried about my bump or anything else. I really need some advice. Thank you

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 31 Jan 2019 - 09:24

      Hi - Thank you for your message.
      At 11 weeks it is a little early to be worried about your bump size as it is still very early on in the pregnancy. It is totally understandable why you be so worried given your history and previously very small babies you have had. Due to your history of pre-eclmapsia and FGR you will be monitored much more closely in this pregnancy with growth scans etc.

    • By am yetty (not verified) on 24 Jan 2019 - 13:41

      I don't knw wart wrong am 14 weeks my belly is not showing n am seeing light blood stain on my pant too

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 24 Jan 2019 - 14:28

      Hi - Thank you for your message.
      If you have any bleeding during your pregnancy, with or without pain, it’s very important to get it checked out.
      Whilst it is common to have light bleeding or ‘spotting’ without pain before 12 weeks., this isn’t often serious, but you should contact your doctor, midwife or Early Pregnancy Unit immediately to be checked, just in case.

      Bleeding in pregnancy after 12 weeks is not common. Contact A&E or your hospital maternity unit immediately so you can be checked.

    • By Ronda Brockenberry (not verified) on 14 Mar 2019 - 09:26

      I'm within 14 weeks pregnancy and I'm experiencing light bleeding on my left side with light pain should I go to an emergency room but I do have scheduled appointment with my Midwif in a few day what should I do

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 20 Mar 2019 - 10:30

      Hi Ronda. Yes, please go into your local maternity unit today to be seen. Abdominal pain, at any gestation, especially with bleeding, needs urgent review. Please do not wait. Go now!
      Take care, Tommy's Midwife

    • By maryam (not verified) on 15 Jan 2019 - 16:15

      hi, am 18weeks pregnant which i know by calculating my last period but i have not gone for any test or scanning hope it will not affect my little one but i always feel it kick.

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 16 Jan 2019 - 15:51

      Hi Maryam
      We recommend having a 12 week and a 20 weeks ultrasound scan as a screening test to rule out any fetal abnormalities and to check fetal wellbeing. You should also have has at least 2 midwife appts- your first booking apt with the midwife between 8-12 weeks gestation, and another around 16 weeks.
      Please make contact with your GP/midwife as soon as possible to get your maternity care started. Take care of yourself. Tommy's Midwife

    • By adekoye abiodun (not verified) on 10 Jan 2019 - 12:21

      what cause it if a baby does not drink water in the womb and can't toitet.what should I do

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 10 Jan 2019 - 14:51

      Thank you for your comment. If you are worried about baby's growth and that it is not getting the right nutrients, you should contact your midwife/Dr for advice and to be assessed urgently.

    • By Damilola Akinleye (not verified) on 7 Jan 2019 - 17:24

      Hi, i am 22weeks pregnant and i went for scan and the baby weight is 0.359 am scared is the baby not to scared.

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 8 Jan 2019 - 15:03

      Hi Damilola - Thank you for your message.
      It is a little unclear from your message what you mean by 0.359am.
      The EFW is a measurement for your midwife and doctors to ensure that the growth is in line with the other measurements taken during the scan - such the length of the baby etc.
      If there was any concern about your baby's growth you will be offered further scans and further monitoring of baby's growth.
      If you are still worried, please discuss with your midwife/Dr at your next appointment.

    • By Paulina (not verified) on 30 Dec 2018 - 20:41

      Hi I'm 32 weeks pregnant, and my baby size is 30cm, since last measurement one month ago my baby was 29cm that means he only grow 1cm, my midwife book me for a scan. I went for a scan and doctor said everything is fine, there is enough water in womb, placenta is in the right place and baby is in good position, but she didn't said why my baby is no growing enough. And she booked me for another scan which will be after a month. Should I get another scan, is she saying truth to me or I'm just over thinking and baby is okay

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 14 Jan 2019 - 14:26

      We measure the size in cm from the pubic bone to the top of the uterus. This gives an indication only of the growth of the baby. Your midwife acted appropriately in referring you, but as all was found to be within normal limits we would suggest that the apparent slow growth could be due either to the position of the baby or to discrepancies in the measurement technique. It is reassuring that you have been told everything is fine. Take care

    • By Nonye (not verified) on 24 Dec 2018 - 09:59

      Hi am nonye, I went for a scan and they said everything was alright but my baby bump doesn't seem to be increasing and am 17 weeks old , what do I do ?

    • By Tatianna (not verified) on 8 Dec 2018 - 08:14

      22 weeks pregnant and I was told my baby is slowly growing, he should be at about 50% and is only at a 1%. Does slowly growing babies have issues outside of the womb?

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 12 Dec 2018 - 15:12

      Hi Tatianna, I am sure that you have been offered more scans to check the growth of your baby. Talk to your doctor or sonographer to ask if there are any concerns. Take care

    • By elaine (not verified) on 29 Nov 2018 - 06:40

      Hi, on my 2nd ultrasound i was told that i was 5w and 6d pregnant but had to come back after 2 weeks because the baby's heart rate was only 96. When i came back the baby was still the same size and the heart rate dropped to 84. The sonographer wanted me to take a deep breath everytime she counts the heart rate. I'm confused. Looks like she's having a hard time measuring as well. My OB told me to come back after a week to monitor the heart rate but no ultrasound. Do you think i'm going to miscarry soon? I don't feel any pain or something wrong to my body. I'm taking duphaston and vaginal progesterone from the time they saw an embryo because i had 3 natural miscarriages in the past. Do you think these are preventing me from miscarrying naturally? Thanks.

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 30 Nov 2018 - 12:03

      Hi Elaine,
      I am so sorry to hear that you are going through such an uncertain and difficult time in this pregnancy. It is not possible to give you a definite answer as to what is happening, but it does sound like your baby needs to be monitored closely, and a likely chance of a miscarriage occurring. It is difficult to say how long a miscarriage would take to happen, but they will keep monitoring you. The medication you are on, is prescribed to help prevent miscarriage so it is possible this could be prolonging a possible miscarriage. IF we can support you then please do be touch, you can email us, [email protected]
      Take care, Tommy's midwife

    • By Lizeka (not verified) on 24 Nov 2018 - 06:26

      Hai Dr,im 8 weeks pregnant went for a scan at 7 week my Dr told me that my baby's development is far behind and the heart beat is slow,i might have miscarage. Now its been a wèek, no sign of miscarage but my tummy is growing,im confused.

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 26 Nov 2018 - 11:41

      Have you arranged for a repeat scan? Mostly, in this situation you would have another scan after 2 weeks. I am sorry that I can't help more without seeing the scan reports. We send our best wishes to you from Tommy's midwives

    • By Carole (not verified) on 22 Nov 2018 - 11:58

      Hi,
      I had a growth scan last week at 32 weeks and everything was going well. I saw my OB today at 33 weeks and he measured on his little scanner and it looked a little behind. (2 weeks behind) He said could be the angle but he booked me for a scan anyway next week at 34 weeks to check growth. Could the baby have stopped growing or lost weight from my last scan ? I’m really worried

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 22 Nov 2018 - 14:21

      Hi Carole, Thank you for your comment.

      Every midwife or Dr would refer a woman for a growth scan if they suspected a change in the growth of a baby. It could be the angle of the baby but as a precaution the Dr did the right thing and booked you in for a growth scan. They need to give a few days before scanning you again so that they can see the difference in the growth if the baby is measuring small. There can be times where the placenta starts to stop working as well as it did and this can cause the growth of a baby to slow down. The good thing is that if this is the case, then it has been picked up and you will be monitored closely. If the Dr suspects that you baby is not growing then they may discuss inducing you before your due date. If you have any further questions or concerns then we would advised that you call your midwife or local antenatal day unit for further reassurance. Keep an eye on your baby's movements and again, if you have any concerns then please call the maternity unit to be checked over. Hope this helps, Take Care, Tommy's Midwives x

    • By Nyikos (not verified) on 12 Nov 2018 - 12:09

      Hello I went to scan when I was 16 weeks they said the heart beat is fine but they can't see lower limbs,i must come back on my 22 weeks I'm worried

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