What is fundal height and how does it help measure my baby’s growth?
“It’s your third trimester? Your baby is the size of a peach now!” Fruits and vegetables have been used to describe foetal growth throughout pregnancy for quite some time now. While this is a useful way to visualise the baby’s growth for most of us out there, your obstetrician has a more accurate form of measurement to monitor the growth of your little one. This measurement metric is called the “fundal height”.
According to the world health organisation, fundal height is a commonly practised method of foetal growth assessment. The measurement is defined as the distance in centimetres from your pubic bone to the top of your uterus. It is helpful in determining if the baby is small for its gestational age.
After completing 24 weeks of pregnancy, the fundal height should roughly be equal to the week of gestation, i.e. If you are 27 weeks pregnant, fundal height should ideally be 27 centimetres. As you approach your due date, your baby would begin descending into your pelvis in preparation for birth hence, the fundal height would start decreasing.
Your doctor would then compare your fundal height with the standard fundal height. If your fundal height measures smaller or larger than expected, or the rate of increase is more or less than expected, it could indicate
- Slow foetal growth
- Multiple pregnancies
- Significantly larger than average baby
- Oligohydramnios (presence of too little amniotic fluid)
- Polyhydramnios (presence of excess amniotic fluid)
Based on what your doctor observes, you would be asked to undergo an ultrasound to determine the cause of the irregularities and would monitor your pregnancy closely.
It is important to remember that fundal height is not an exact science. Fundal height measurement is less accurate for women with a body mass index (BMI) greater than 30. Researchers are still trying to determine how effective it is in detecting intrauterine growth restriction.
Ques: What is my fundal height at 29 weeks of pregnancy?
After 20 weeks of pregnancy, your fundal height in centimetres should roughly be equal to the number of weeks you complete in your pregnancy. Basically, if you are in the 29th week of your pregnancy, your fundal height would be approximately 29 centimetres. As you get closer to your due date (37-40 weeks of pregnancy), your fundal height will start decreasing as your baby starts descending into your pelvis.
Ques: Is fundal height accurate?
Fundal height measurement is helpful in determining if the foetal growth is normal or not. However, it is not an exact science. Body mass index is also a factor in the accuracy of the fundal height. Your doctor might recommend an ultrasound to get a more accurate picture of foetal growth.
Ques: When can I start measuring my fundal height?
Your doctor would start recording your fundal height after you complete 20 weeks of pregnancy. In case there are any inconsistencies that are observed, your doctor would monitor your pregnancy more closely and recommend further diagnostic tests to determine the causes behind the irregularities.
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