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 (on average every 2-3 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. This costs around £200, depending 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 Anonymous (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 Anonymous (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