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 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

  • By Laura (not verified) on 11 Sep 2018 - 23:18

    Just went for an ultrasound and I’m supposed to be 28weeks but de just told me baby is measuring 2 weeks behind. Didn’t seem too worried but sending me for another scan. Hubby and I are both smaller people and drs PA didn’t seem worried at my last appt in which they said only the femur was small and to remeasure. Should I be worried??

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 12 Sep 2018 - 16:36

    Hi Laura
    Please be reassured that your doctor wants to monitor your baby's growth by doing another scan. If there are any concerns then they should discuss this with you and any future plans for your pregnancy care.
    Please contact your maternity unit if baby's movements are less than normal, or you have any other concerns.

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 12 Sep 2018 - 16:36

    Hi Laura
    Please be reassured that your doctor wants to monitor your baby's growth by doing another scan. If there are any concerns then they should discuss this with you and any future plans for your pregnancy care.
    Please contact your maternity unit if baby's movements are less than normal, or you have any other concerns.

  • By Precious Emmanuel (not verified) on 9 Sep 2018 - 00:06

    Hi Doctor, please my best friends mum has been pregnant since 2016 till date, been a mother of 6 grown children, she attempted several abortion pills which stopped the baby from growing, but theres evidence that the baby is alive, please what can she do to save the baby and herself, she doesn't have enough money to go to the hospital... And is she in any danger? She doesn't feel much pains... Please help us

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 12 Sep 2018 - 11:38

    Hi Precious
    Your friend's mum can access free maternity care at any stage of pregnancy via the NHS if she is in the UK. We can only give general advice if you are not in the UK as we are not familiar with other health systems.
    If she thinks this baby is alive it is very important that mum sees a health professional who can provide maternity care for both hers and the baby's health. If money is an issue there may be a charity she can contact for help.
    She should go to hospital urgently if she has severe pains, bleeding, feels unwell in any way or has other concerns about herself and the baby's health.
    I have attached some links with more information for you-
    https://www.tommys.org/pregnancy-information/im-pregnant/antenatal-care
    https://www.tommys.org/pregnancy-information/pregnancy-complications/intrauterine-growth-restriction-iugr
    Please contact us on Tommy's Pregnancy Line 0800 0147 800 or email midwife @tommys.org for more advice

    Take care
    Tommy's Midwife

  • By Radha (not verified) on 8 Sep 2018 - 06:10

    Present I'm 16 th week, Sometimes I feel like IAm not having any baby in my stomach. Sometimes I was getting pain, why this is happens, my baby growing or not, I'm not have big bump also

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 12 Sep 2018 - 09:47

    Hi Radha
    16 weeks is still quite early in the pregnancy-your bump may not start to show until you are nearer 20 weeks. If you have any pain or bleeding you must contact your maternity unit for advice. I hope by now you have booked into your local unit and have started your antenatal care-if so you should have been given an appointment for a 20 week scan. I have attached 2 links with more information about the 2nd trimester for you-
    https://www.tommys.org/pregnancy-week-by-week/16-weeks-pregnant-whats-happening
    https://www.tommys.org/pregnancy-information/im-pregnant/pregnancy-calendar/second-trimester-weeks-13-28

  • By Inka (not verified) on 30 Aug 2018 - 17:33

    I have been taking Pregnacare plus but stopped taking the omega-3 tablets since about the start of my second trimester... the baby was fine on Week 20 scan and not getting anymore scans.

    I was just wondering, is that bad for my baby and if I did just start back taking them will it be beneficial?

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 31 Aug 2018 - 14:12

    Hi Inka,
    There is no evidence to show that taking DHA and omega 3 tablets in pregnancy is beneficial or has an impact on the baby's development so no need to take them. You may want to include some fish in your diet a a natural source however. It is important to continue to take vitamin D.
    Best wishes
    Tommy's midwife

  • By Rhashae (not verified) on 21 Aug 2018 - 02:24

    I’m 34 weeks my baby is 4lbs 15oz, I was informed that my baby stomach/waist is growing small but everything else is growing fine. I was also told that I would be getting ultrasound scans weekly for now on should I be worried?

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 22 Aug 2018 - 11:11

    Hi Rhashae
    It is great that your midwife/doctor has ordered weekly scans for you if your baby is measuring on the smaller side. This means your care is of a good standard and means they can more accurately track baby's growth.
    Good luck with everything and feel free to email/call us if you need any further assistance.
    Tommy's Midwife

  • By Una Lia (not verified) on 14 Aug 2018 - 04:26

    Hi, Doctor says everything is normal. I'm 28 weeks now but my tummy is too small as everyone says.. This is my second child... and also baby forever moving so i'm always experiencing shortness of breath ...is this normal?? i never had it this way with my first.

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 16 Aug 2018 - 10:14

    Hi Una Lia,
    As long as your doctor and midwife are happy with the the measurements of your bump/baby then please take reassurance in this. Bumps can come in all different shapes and sizes so the measurements are important, if you are 28 weeks then you should have an antenatal appointment around this time. If you are experiencing on going shortness of breath then do speak with your midwife, this can be very normal in pregnancy however it can be sign of anaemia or something more serious that just needs to be ruled out.
    Best wishes
    Tommy's midwife

  • By Amanda (not verified) on 31 Jul 2018 - 05:18

    I’m 28 weeks pregnant and my baby Chloe is only 2lbs. The doctors are doing ultrasound weekly. But is it something I can do. Help

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 31 Jul 2018 - 16:16

    Hi Amanda
    If you are having weekly scans, then you are having a good standard of care at your hospital, which is great. There is nothing that you can do to increase babies size yourself i am afraid to say.
    Are you having doppler (blood flow)scans too?
    Please feel free to call or email us Amanada if you have any further questions. 08000147800/[email protected]
    All the best
    Sophie,Tommy's Midwives

  • By Tigger (not verified) on 19 Jul 2018 - 00:15

    I’m currently 32 weeks into my pregnancy they keep saying my baby isn’t growing well but at work and elsewhere people say my belly is big to be sad he isn’t growing well and what can I do to see his face every visit his face is against my placenta? Thanks

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 19 Jul 2018 - 14:56

    Hi Tigger, Thank you for your comment.
    It may be from others that your bump is growing however, your Drs will go by the measurements on the scan which is more accurate then looking at the size of your bump alone. Measuring baby by scan will be much more accurate and this way they can keep an eye on the growth of your baby, especially as they have some concern that baby is a little on the small side. With regards to seeing his face, this is all up to him really, there is nothing we can advice you to do to change this unless he wants to move by himself, he may just be in a comfortable position but as you should be scanned more regularly because of his growth, hopefully at one of these scans he will have moved. Hope this helps, Take Care, Tommy's Midwives x

  • By Saraswathi (not verified) on 14 Jun 2018 - 09:24

    Now 10th months is happening
    But baby stomach area is not growing well
    What can do

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 15 Jun 2018 - 16:54

    Hi Saraswathi,
    If there are concerns about your baby's growth then you should be having regular growth scans to monitor this, if not then do speak with your midwife. If you are over due then your team should be discussing the option of induction with you also.
    Best wishes
    Tommy's midwife

  • By Blumorxan (not verified) on 13 Jun 2018 - 00:38

    23 weeks pregnant, evverything was fine bump was growing could feel baby moving but now today I was told she is in the 8th percentile. Does she have IUGR?? Is there anything I can do to get her to grow back on track?

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 13 Jun 2018 - 13:18

    Hi Blumorxan
    This sounds like a question for an obstetric doctor. They can look at your scan and measurements (taking into account your medical and obstetric history) and help to give you more information about why your baby is possibly on the smaller side. Please attend your hospital triage/day assessment unit for review unless you have an appointment for sometime this week with an obstetrician in your antenatal clinic
    All the best
    Sophie,Tommy's Midwife

  • By Rahma (not verified) on 4 Jun 2018 - 05:41

    My belly's growing but i can't feel movement of my baby in my tummy and am 18 weeks pregnant

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 5 Jun 2018 - 14:09

    Hi Rahma,

    Thank you for contacting us.
    Some women feel their baby move later than others. However i would suggest speaking to your local maternity unit for reassurance and assessment.

  • By Sabas (not verified) on 26 May 2018 - 08:37

    I'm 10 week pregnant but after scanning i get to know MY BABY STOP GROWING. Scan showed its 5 week baby.. please suggest me what can i do.

    Doctor said Me to go DNC

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