Fundal Height in Pregnancy – How to Measure Pregnant Belly Size?

5 min read

Fundal Height in Pregnancy

It is a heavenly feeling to feel the little life growing inside you. You cannot see it but you can feel it from within. And there comes the time when you can touch your baby bump and measure the position, height and movements of your baby. In medical terms, it is called a fundal height. This measuring of your baby bump can tell whether your baby is growing as it should be or not.

So what is fundal height and how can you measure it? What is the correct fundal height and when do you need to worry? These are the primary questions that may have come across in your mind by now. Don’t overthink. Just move your eye through this.

In This Article

What is the Fundal Height?

Fundal height is the height between your pubic bone and the top of the uterus. So basically it is the height measurement of your baby bump. It is also termed symphysis fundal height or SFH.

The fundal height is measured in centimeters by a normal measuring tape. And it grows as you advance in your pregnancy. Your doctor will start measuring your fundal height every time you go for a prenatal check-up after the 24th week of pregnancy.

Significance of Measuring Fundal Height For a Baby

The fundal height increases in synchronisation with the gestational week of the baby. Thus if you are measuring your fundal height at the 26th week of pregnancy then the fundal height will be 26 centimeters. Your doctor may also compare your fundal height with other women during the same pregnancy period to check everything is going normal or not.

This measurement may go a few centimetres up or down. But if the difference between the gestational age and fundal height is of more than 3 weeks then it is alarming. Such measurements can indicate:

In case of such measurement, your doctor can ask you to do an ultrasound. But you also need to know irregular fundal height does not always indicate a problem. Sometimes there can be less troubling issues like:

  • Wrong prediction of gestational age
  • Overweight or obesity of the mother

[Read : 8 Possible Causes of Slow Fetal Growth]

How to Measure Fundal Height For a Baby?

Fundal Height measurement in pregnancy

Here is the step by step procedure for fundal height measurement in Pregnancy.

  1. For your first-time fundal height measurement you should visit your gynaecologist and they will show you the proper method to do it. Moreover, you can discuss any doubts regarding the measurement. After that if anytime you want to know how your baby is growing, you can just ask your spouse or a family member to do the measurements.
  2. The next important thing is to go for urination just before the measurement. You need to empty your bladder completely to get the correct measurement. Even a half-full bladder can cause wrong measurements and create unnecessary anxiety.
  3. You will have to wear a hospital gown instead of your regular clothes to get a perfect reading without any hindrance.
  4. Lay straight on your back on a flat surface to prepare for taking the measurements.
  5. Stay calm and breathe normally so that the heavy ups and downs of your diaphragm do not cause much variation in the measurements.
  6. Your doctor will take a flexible tape measuring in centimetres to measure your baby bump. They will put the end of the measuring tape on the top of your uterus. This will be around your stomach area or the topmost part of your bump. Then they will place the tape on the top of your pubic bone or the pelvic region.
  7. After taking the measurements your doctor will ask you to change clothes and share with you their remarks on your fundal height.
  8. If everything is going as it should be then fine. Otherwise, your doctor can ask you for some tests along with the ultrasound to get a clear view of the situation.

What is the Correct Fundal Height?

The fundal height is correct if it is following the gestational age of the fetus. A few centimetres plus or minus should be fine. For instance, if your baby’s gestational age is 25 weeks then the correct fundal height should be between 23 to 27 centimetres.

Your doctor will keep a record of your fundal height measurements on a chart each time you go for check-ups. This fundal height chart contains two variables. The X-axis of it marks gestational age and the Y-axis fundal height. This chart also has two slopes to show the normal fundal height according to the gestational age.

Your doctor will mark the measurement on the chart and compare it with the previous measurement to see the growth of the baby.

What Will the Doctor do If a Baby Measures Big or Small?

ultrasound done on pregnant women

There can be multiple reasons behind your baby’s measuring large or small as per the gestation age. The reasons behind a big sized baby bump can be:

  • Excessive amniotic fluid
  • Presence of tumour on the uterus or uterine fibroids
  • Presence of multiple foetuses
  • Obesity or specifically the presence of belly fat
  • Pelvis lies narrower than normal
  • Loose abdominal muscles because of previous pregnancy
  • Wrong prediction of the gestational age or due date
  • The foetus is suffering from macrosomia due to mother’s gestational diabetes

On the other hand, the reasons behind a small fundal height of the baby are:

  • Less than normal amniotic fluid
  • Skinny or underweight mother
  • The position of the baby dropped downwards to your pelvis
  • Incorrectly calculated due date
  • Intrauterine growth restrictions or foetal growth restriction.

So if in case your baby measures big or small in the fundal height measurement, your doctor will try to find out the cause behind it. An ultrasound can say a lot more about the baby’s size and position. You can even check the amniotic fluid levels.

Doctors predict the due date by calculating the first day of your last menstruation. Any mistake on that date means the due date shifts. Or in the case of irregular periods, one cannot predict when ovulation might have happened. So your baby can be much younger or older than the gestational age you are predicting for him/her.

Your gynaecologist will go through all of this once more. Once the root of the problem is detected then medication will be started according to it.

Fundal height can give you an overall idea of your baby’s growth. But you should not rely on it entirely and panic. There are other advanced methods. So stay calm and enjoy your baby bump days.

[Read : Intrauterine Growth Retardation]

FAQ’s

1. Does the Fundal Height Predict the Due Date?

Yes, the fundal height can predict the due date. As fundal height increases relatively with gestational age, it can tell when your baby will come.

2. Can the Fundal Height be Wrong?

Yes, fundal height can differ by 2 weeks, especially for non-obese women. But you should be concerned if it differs by more than 3 weeks with the gestational age.

3. What Does Measuring Large For Gestational Age Mean?

Measuring bigger than the gestational age means the baby is larger than expected for its age. It means your fetus is growing more than it should in its gestational age.

4. What Does Measuring Small For Gestational Age Mean?

Small for gestational age means your baby is smaller in size than expected for their gestational age. That means your baby is small in size in comparison with others.

Read Also: How To Calculate Pregnancy Weeks And Months?

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