Your midwife should start measuring your growing baby at prenatal appointments.
The measurements are taken with a non-elastic centimeter 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 prenatal visit (on average every 2-4 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.
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.
If you are concerned that your bump isn’t getting any bigger, call your midwife and ask for an extra prenatal 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 and immediately 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.
Read more about intrauterine growth restriction, also known as fetal growth restriction (IUGR/FGR)
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-supervision-and-regulation_-recommendations-for-change.pdf (accessed 6 May 2014)