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 tall 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

  • 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 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

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 13 Nov 2018 - 10:38

    Hi - Thank you for your message. It is hard to comment with very little detail, but if you have been asked to come back at 22 weeks it may be that they were finding it hard on this occasion to carry out measurements.
    Please email us on [email protected] if you would like to discuss this in more detail or you can call us on 08000147800

  • By Inka (not verified) on 9 Nov 2018 - 04:30

    Hello,

    I am 33 weeks pregnant and my little one hiccups in the womb almost everyday. Is that normal, or do I need to be concerned?

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 13 Nov 2018 - 10:42

    Hi - Thank you for your message. It is very normal for babies to get hiccups in the womb, you probably feel little rhythmic flutters when your baby gets them.

  • By Inka (not verified) on 9 Nov 2018 - 04:28

    Hello,

    I have asked about DhA before but I am a bit worried as I went off fish during my pregnancy around the 20 weeks mark as that was the only thing I couldn’t stand to look at or smell as it would just make me sick.

    Now I am worried, will my baby suffer because of this? I even stopped taking my omega 3 and DhA combined vitamins around that time and just take them as and when... will this affect little one?

    If I were to start taking them now at 33 weeks will it make a difference?

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 13 Nov 2018 - 10:55

    Hi - Thank you for your message. People usually take fish oil supplements because they contain omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids can help protect against heart disease.

    It's better to eat fish than take fish oil supplements. Fish is an excellent source of nutrients that are good for your health and your unborn baby's development.

  • By Porangi (not verified) on 22 Oct 2018 - 16:26

    Wife just had 30 week scan and baby is basically the size of 26 weeks old but she's still kicking heaps and at the scan the heart beat was strong and the blood flow to plancenta was good but my wifes 38 years old and its her first baby just after any advice available thanks

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 22 Oct 2018 - 16:55

    Hi Poranghi, Glad to hear you are getting good care. The most important thing is to ensure your wife is happy with the baby movements. if she is concerned that the baby is not moving enough, you should seek medical advice as soon as possible.

  • By Jeena (not verified) on 11 Oct 2018 - 16:07

    Hi..I had my 20 weeks scan two days ago and scan showed my baby has head circumferance 168.5 and its 9.8 percentile below normal,they said.I am booked in for a growth scan in two weeks. I am really anxious.Anything can i do to make a change ? I mean diet?

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 12 Oct 2018 - 13:02

    Hi Jeena,
    I am sorry to hear that you are having an anxious time in your pregnancy but reassuring that you are being followed up and having another growth scan. With regards to your question about your diet, I am afraid there is not anything in particular that I can recommend you eat to help with your baby's growth, however having a general healthy balanced diet is important as well as keeping hydrated. It is equally as important to look after your mental well being as stress can also affect the baby, if you would like to talk further then please do email us [email protected]
    Best wishes,
    Tommy's midwife

  • By Agness (not verified) on 11 Oct 2018 - 09:48

    I already had two miscarriages and now third time pregnant, I calculated the date from first day of my last period and it seems I'm about 5w 2d pregnant. I am really worried as my midwife won't see me till I'm 8 weeks which is on 1.11.2018 and they don't want to do early scan. I'm so scared I will loose this baby as well :( I don't bleed but can't really see any symptoms. I feel funny in my stomach but not to be sick, pee a lot, I'm constantly hungry and tired but then can't sleep most nights. My breasts feel bit Fuller but not sensitive. With first miscarriage I bled and lost it at 6 weeks (scan showed it stopped to grow at 4w), second miscarriage happened when we went for 12w scan and been told it stopped to grow at 10w so had take tablets. Is there anything I can or doctor should do to reassure me? I'm worrying to death and I really don't know what to look for and what to do.

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 11 Oct 2018 - 14:10

    Hi Agness, Thank you for your comment.

    We are sorry to hear what you are going through, this must be a very anxious time. I see no reason why your GP cannot refer you for an early reassurance scan under the circumstances after you have had 2 early miscarriages. I would speak to your GP and see if this can be arranged for you. Tell them how worried you are and that is it effecting your sleep. You can always get in touch with your early pregnancy unit or local A and E department if you have any abdominal pain or bleeding. Hope this has helps, Take Care Tommy's Midwives x

  • By Joy (not verified) on 3 Oct 2018 - 16:15

    I am 4 months pregnant and noticed a slight bleeding this morning. Went to the hospital and scan showed 7 weeks without breathing activity. What do I do?

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 8 Oct 2018 - 14:12

    Hi Joy, Has the sonographer not given you information about what to do? Have they arranged a follow-up appointment? Did you have a 12 weeks scan? If you need to call us our number is 0800 0147 800. Take care

  • By Colra (not verified) on 3 Oct 2018 - 04:27

    Plz tell me as i am so worried that i am 5 weeks n 6 days pregnent but as per transviginal ultarasound baby heart beat is not findable .kindly plx clear as i have no bleeding no cramps nothing n i m okay properly what to do .

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 8 Oct 2018 - 14:07

    Hi Colra, Without knowing all the information it's not possible to reassure you. I wonder why you had a scan at this gestation. Have there been problems in the past? It is quite common for the heartbeat to not be visible until 7 weeks. Have you got a follow-up appointment?

  • By jewel (not verified) on 28 Sep 2018 - 13:51

    Hi I am 16th weeks now. just asking if it is okay to take an ultrasounds again because i am worried that my tummy looks not growing. my last ultrasound is Aug.4.2018.

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 28 Sep 2018 - 16:36

    Hi - all women grow differently during pregnancy and this varies depending on you pre-pregnant size, health, lifestyle, diet, genetics and what number baby you are having.
    If you are based in the UK, you will be due another Ultrasound scan at around 20 weeks which will pick up any concerns about growth.

  • By Hasee (not verified) on 24 Sep 2018 - 16:25

    Hii..im hasee...im 28 weeks pregnant and ny tummy is not growing...im feeling my baby movements...is there any problem in baby growth...

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 25 Sep 2018 - 16:53

    Hi Hasee
    If you are worried that your tummy is not growing then it is important you see your midwife (or similar care giver) to check the baby's growth-you may be advised to have a scan to check that the baby is growing normally. If the baby moving less than normal or you have any worrying symptoms then you should seek urgent advice
    The following link has more information for you-
    https://www.tommys.org/pregnancy-information/pregnancy-complications/intrauterine-growth-restriction-iugr

    Take care
    Tommy's Midwife

  • By Anabela (not verified) on 18 Sep 2018 - 23:39

    I am pregnant and my first scan the doctor said that I am 5weeks but he said as well that my baby has stopped to grow and that I am bleeding from inside as well and seems Sunday I am still bleeding outside as well my question is if the baby has stop to grow does that mean that he won’t grow anymore?

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 20 Sep 2018 - 14:44

    Hi Anabela, Thank you for your comment.
    From what you have described and if you are actively bleeding then it does suggest that you may be having a miscarriage. If your baby has stopped growing and you are bleeding then this can be a sign that a miscarriage may happen. If you are still unsure of what is happening then we would recommend that you speak to your Doctor again, as they will be able to look at our notes and your scan records and will give you a more accurate answer then what we can at Tommy's. We hope that you are ok at this time, Take Care, Tommy's Midwives x

  • By Erie (not verified) on 18 Sep 2018 - 15:45

    Hi there im 16 weeks and 4 days but i feel like i dont have that big baby bump and i don’t feel the baby moving.i haven’t been check since my 8 weeks no appoinment still by this time..but im always feeling hungry and always peeing than the usual..

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 20 Sep 2018 - 14:29

    Hi Erie, Thank you for your comment.
    It is common for women to start to feel baby movement between 16 and 24 weeks, this can happen at any time and everyone feels movements at different stages. This goes the same for your bump, if this is your first baby then your abdominal muscles will be firmer then those of a woman who has had pregnancies before, so you tend to show a little later in a first pregnancy. If you are still concerned then please contact your community midwife who will be able to give you further reassurance. Hope this helps, Take Care, Tommy's Midwives x

  • By Titilayo (not verified) on 13 Sep 2018 - 00:05

    I'm pregnant the first scan I did was 6weeks +5days, a week later the sca gave the same result. Then after a Month I did scan same result but now I'm bleeding . don't knw what to do

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 13 Sep 2018 - 11:54

    Hi Titilayo,
    It sounds like you have been having a very anxious time over the past few weeks, if you are having bleeding now, then we would recommend that you call the early pregnancy unit so that they can check you over and scan you again. Please call them as soon as you can to be seen. Take Care, Tommy's Midwives x

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