How is a baby's growth measured in pregnancy?
The measurements are taken with a non-elastic centimetre tape measure from the top of your bump to the top of your pubic bone. It may be written down as ‘fundal height’ (FH) or symphysis-fundal height (SFH). These measurements should be taken at each antenatal visit from around 24 weeks.
The measurement should be within 3cm of the number of weeks you are pregnant. When you're 30 weeks pregnant, for example, your measurement should be somewhere between 27cm and 33cm. This will vary depending on your height and weight in early pregnancy, how many children you’ve had and your ethnicity.
How can the midwife or doctor tell if the baby is not growing?
Your baby’s growth is recorded in your notes either as a measurement 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.
What happens if baby is not growing in pregnancy?
If you are concerned that your bump isn’t getting any bigger, call your midwife and ask for an extra antenatal appointment to be measured. 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 give a more accurate measurement. If the scan is normal, the measurement doesn't matter.
If you feel your bump isn’t getting any bigger and your baby’s movements have slowed down, talk to your midwife or maternity unit at the hospital immediately to get checked. These are the symptoms of a condition called intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR/FGR). It means the baby is not growing properly in the womb. Your midwife should refer you to the hospital for a scan and extra monitoring.
If you are still concerned and your midwife does not refer you for a scan, you can ask to see another midwife in the team, contact the day assessment unit (DAU) within the maternity unit.
Another option for those who can afford it is to have a private scan. The cost will depend on where you go.
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 and if you notice a change, report it to your midwife or doctor immediately. Read more about movements here.
National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, Antenatal care: routine care for the healthy pregnant woman, clinical guideline 62, London NICE, 2008
Gardosi J, Francis A, Controlled trial of fundal height measurement plotted on customised antenatal growth charts. BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology 1999; 106(4) (1 April 1999): 309–17
Macdonald S, Magill-Cuerden J, Mayes’ midwifery, fourteenth edition, Edinburgh Baillir̈e Tindall Elsevier, 2012
London Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, Midwifery supervision and regulation: recommendations for change, London The Stationery Office, 2013. Also available at: http://www.ombudsman.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0003/23484/Midwifery-... (accessed 6 May 2014)Hide details
ℹLast reviewed on April 1st, 2014. Next review date April 1st, 2017.
By Rose (not verified) on 9 Jan 2018 - 12:07
Hi, am 26 weeks pregnant my baby can move only on the right side and is breach, today was my appointment and the doctor said the baby is not growing and he is sending me to the specialist, the heartbeat is normal and am eating well, is there something that can be causing this, my blood pressure is on and off
By Midwife @Tommys on 10 Jan 2018 - 11:47
It might be best for you to call us on 0800 0147800 to talk this through in more detail as i do not have enough information to be able to guide you on this.
You should have been sent further and regular growth scans, as well as being referred for consultant led care in your hospital. Please do get in touch so that we can chat through your concerns in more detail. Sophie,Tommy's Midwife
By Anna May (not verified) on 7 Jan 2018 - 10:32
I’m 20 weeks pregnant and no one has measured my bump so far at any appointment so I think your information is out-of-date.
Also private scans in London cost around £100, not £200. This should be updated.
By Midwife @Tommys on 8 Jan 2018 - 16:56
Hi Thank you for your comments. It does seem that the cost of scans has come down and we will look to alter this on the site. Measurement of fundal height is a requirement from 24 weeks. If this is misleading we will look to alter this too. Many thanks
By Anonymous (not verified) on 10 Dec 2017 - 14:11
My midwife said am four months pregnant but my belly is not growing , please what can I do.
By Midwife @Tommys on 13 Dec 2017 - 13:04
Hi, Thank you for your comment.
If you are concerned about your baby's growth then we would recommend that you get checked over. You can always call your midwife or call your antenatal day assessment unit at the hospital. They will be able to measure your bump and if they are concerned, they will do an ultrasound scan to measure the baby's growth. It can be normal not too look that pregnant at this stage, as baby is still small but as the pregnancy progresses then you will start to get more of a bump, but please get checked over if you are worried. Take care of yourself, Tommy's Midwives x
By portia (not verified) on 6 Dec 2017 - 06:03
my belly is not growing but I can fill the baby movement and I'm 5months pregnant
By Midwife @Tommys on 6 Dec 2017 - 09:46
Congratulations on your pregnancy. If you are concerned about your babies growth then please get in touch with your midwife. If you feel that this is urgent, you can also go to your local maternity unit's labour ward, triage, day assessment unit to be seen urgently and have your bump measured and maybe an Ultrasound scan if the measurements are not usual for the gestation. Please take good care of yourself!
Sophie, Tommy's midwife
By Veanka (not verified) on 1 Dec 2017 - 02:00
So I am 32 weeks iam hospital atm as my baby hasn't changed his weight in the three scans I have had but they say they want to see if they can keep him in for another week or so but I have a o e year old and he is Cleary not growing at all how do I convince them to just take him out help plz
By Midwife @Tommys on 1 Dec 2017 - 11:51
I am sorry to hear that you are in hospital and there are concerns about your baby at the moment. Where there are concerns, it is a balance as to where the baby is safest, either still in you or being born. Whilst the doctors deem it safe, they will try to prolong your pregnancy as much as possible. It is important to monitor your baby's movements very carefully and if they reduce or change at all then let the midwife know straight away. If you have any questions then do ask the doctors who should be reviewing you regularly.
By Joy (not verified) on 19 Nov 2017 - 15:19
Pls help me my baby is not growing
By Midwife @Tommys on 20 Nov 2017 - 09:55
You need to go to your maternity triage/labour ward/day assessment unit if you are concerned about the growth of your bump/baby. There,the midwife/obstetric doctor will be able to measure your bump and decide with your medical and obstetric history, if this is right for you and your baby. If they are concerned, they may send you for extra scans as the pregnancy progresses. Look after yourself!
By Anna May (not verified) on 7 Nov 2017 - 16:50
I feel like my bump isn't getting bigger I just had a scan at 27 weeks and baby was measuring fine a week ahead though and next scan is at 32 weeks which is a week and half away but I have a feeling my bump hasn't grown much.
By Midwife @Tommys on 7 Nov 2017 - 17:14
Congratulations on your pregnancy and thank you for your message to Tommy's.
Whilst it is reassuring that your last scan recently showed that baby was measuring fine, if you are worried about baby's growth, please contact your local maternity unit or GP.
By bliss (not verified) on 29 Aug 2017 - 15:19
am 5months pregnant my belly bottom is only poping out.i can feel my baby movement.hope no problem?
By Midwife @Tommys on 30 Aug 2017 - 13:20
it is quite normal for your belly button to "pop out" at this stage of pregnancy. And it is wonderful that you are feeling your baby move around lots. Fetal movements being frequent and active are a sign that the baby is happy and healthy. If you are ever concerned that the baby is moving less, then this would be a reason to get yourself to hospital to be checked over.
Please take good care of yourself
By Midwife @Tommys on 9 Aug 2016 - 16:28
It is important that you are receiving regular antenatal care with a midwife or at the hospital. At these appointments the health professional should measure the height of your uterus between the top of your uterus and your pubic bone. If this measure is smaller than expected then you should be referred for a scan to check that the baby is growing well. If you have not seen anyone recently then I advise you to make an appointment as soon as possible. You should also be very aware of your baby's movements and if you notice a change or they reduce in anyway then go straight to the maternity unit to be review. If you would like to talk further please call us on 0800 0147 800 or email [email protected]
By Anonymous (not verified) on 9 Aug 2016 - 14:41
I am 9months pregnant but my Tommy is just like a 4months old pregnancy. What do I do
By [email protected]'s on 16 Jun 2016 - 13:25
Please talk to your midwife or hospital about your concerns. If you would like to talk to a Tommy's midwife, they are available 9-5 Monday to Friday on 0800 0147 800. Kind regards, Tommy's
By sebongile (not verified) on 18 Aug 2017 - 08:24
Hlw.17 weeks pregnant but no symptoms.
By Midwife @Tommys on 18 Aug 2017 - 10:32
Please contact Tommy's Pregnancy Line on 0800 147 800.
By Anonymous (not verified) on 14 Jun 2016 - 15:21
My baby is not growing