Antenatal care provided by an experienced Obstetrician or Midwife is important. One of the most important aspects of your antenatal care is the careful monitoring of your baby’s growth during the pregnancy. Many pregnant women are told by well meaning friends or work colleagues that they look very big or small, raising concerns. No one wants to have a “whopper” baby!
One in 10 babies are smaller than they should be when born, and it is important to try to detect these babies, as they are at higher risk for pregnancy and birth related complications, as well as health problems during early and sometimes later life.
When your Obstetrician or Midwife assesses the size of your baby, he or she will consider what is a normal sized baby for you. Your genetics play an important role in determining the size of your baby, so a finely built woman will normally have a smaller baby than a larger framed woman.
At your antenatal visit, after 20 weeks gestation, your OGB Clinician will measure the size of your uterus. Usually, the stage of pregnancy in weeks equals the measurement of your uterus in centimetres. We are also interested in the frequency and strength of movements of the baby, especially in the later stages of pregnancy.
If you have other health issues, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney problems or have an IVF pregnancy, your Obstetrician or Midwife will be aware of the higher likelihood of having a small baby.
If it is thought that your baby may be small, your OGB Obstetrician will either perform an ultrasound, or ask you to have a scan performed by a Doctor outside the practice. The ultrasound will, within some limitations, assess the size of baby, measure the fluid around the baby, and check the blood flow through the placenta. Ultrasounds may also measure blood flow within the baby itself if needed.
Your OGB Obstetrician will discuss with you the information obtained from the ultrasound and provide advice regarding any treatment required.
The most common plan is to undertake regular CTG monitoring of your baby’s heart beat, more regular check ups, and being aware of the baby’s movements. It is also quite common to have an induction of labour before your due date for a small baby. Occasionally, your Obstetrician will advise you to have a caesarean section without going into labour.
If it is thought that your baby is “small for gestation”, you should feel confident that your Obstetrician will work to ensure that he or she is born safely.
Visit back regularly for updates from the OGB Staff.