Growth Scans

Lottie Manns

I always found it quite exciting having your bump measured and plotted in your charts. It was lovely to see how baby was growing and seeing that little line move along. But what happens when they suddenly tell you that your baby is measuring small?

The midwife says those words so calmly and as if it’s a passing comment whereas you take a deep breath and wonder what on earth is going on. Anything untoward to do with your baby always sends you in to a mild panic. It did with me anyway.

I had to go for growth scans with both my pregnancies and they can be quite scary but I’m here to try and re-assure you not to panic. Unfortunately I didn’t quite follow my own advice at the time! I will say that the day I was told Molly was measuring small was also the same day they told me that I had a serious condition called Obstetric Cholestasis and that they thought Molly was breech. It was all too much and I just sat and cried. I knew my bump was small but I didn’t think that was an issue as it had tracked on the same line all the way through the pregnancy. I had the extra worry that the potential smallness was due to the OC. Originally my growth scan was booked in for a week’s time which was quite a long wait. A week of wondering if everything was ok. I didn’t have to wait as it turned out as I ended up having it the next day as I needed urgent liver scans for the OC so they did the baby measurements then as well.

The scan is just the same as your normal 12 week and 20 week scans but they take various measurements of different parts of your baby to make sure everything is ok. You may have a second growth scan a few weeks later but again don’t worry, it’s only so they can check any changes in that time.

The issue with the bump measurements done by your midwife is that your bump may measure small, or equally big, due to a large number of factors, not just the size of your baby. It could be things like the amount of fluid around the baby or even just to do with your own height and build. Equally some babies grow quicker or slower than others so you may have a sudden growth spurt and then nothing for a while. So long as the measurements track on the same line it should be fine and little cause for concern.

Thankfully my scan showed that Molly was the perfect size, and even more thankfully not breech, so I only had the OC to worry about! The sonographer was great at reassuring me that everything was ok and I had nothing to worry about.

When I was pregnant with Alice they once again told me at around 34 weeks that they thought she was measuring small which was ironic as my bump was huge! This time I was quite relaxed as I knew the scan would quickly show whether there was an issue and not to worry. Once again baby was the right size although they sent me again at 36 weeks just to make sure as there were a lot of inconsistencies with my chart. During my pregnancy I had been measured by different midwives and doctors (as I was under consultant led care) and it seems everyone measures slightly differently hence my chart being all over the place.

In my experience most of the time the scan will confirm that everything is ok and there is nothing to worry about. However, occasionally they may find that your baby is smaller than it should be, often due to issues with the placenta, but rest assured you will then be in the best possible care to make sure your baby is monitored. Overall any extra scans and checks are all to do with making sure your baby is healthy and getting the chance to see your baby again can only be a good thing!

Has anyone else been sent for growth scans or been told their baby is smaller (or bigger) than they should be?

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Lottie loves teaching her girls to be cake baking and crafting supremos. It may be messy but she wouldn’t have it any other way.
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47 Comments. Leave new

I had two growth scans as my bump was measuring small, which I was expecting them to say as I’d been much bigger first time (perhaps due to more cake or not having to chase a toddler around). The first growth scan (at about 36 weeks) showed the baby was a normal size for my dates but I had to have a second scan at 39 weeks as my bump hadn’t grown (in fact it was measuring smaller). At that scan they said the baby’s growth had slowed and more importantly her tummy measurement was small which the consultant said was because she wasn’t getting enough nutrients so I ended up being induced the next day (at exactly 40 weeks). She ended up weighing a perfectly acceptable 7lb 6oz but I’m glad I was induced because having had multiple miscarriages and a molar pregnancy I didn’t have a lot of confidence in my body’s pregnancy ability so once I was told that things weren’t looking 100% right I just wanted the baby to be born. Thankfully the birth was straightforward and she is now a happy (albeit small) 12 week old.

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Hi Kat. It’s always good to have the scans and know that everything is ok. It’s sometimes the reassurance you need and also knowing that they are able to induce if needed. So happy to hear baby arrived safely and hope you are managing to get some rest! xx

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I had a few growth scans with my daughter – one after the 20 week scan, one around 28 weeks after bump measuring small at midwife appointment & again at 37 weeks after measuring small again. It was a bit nervewracking to hear she may be small. Up until the 37 week scan she was absolutely fine but her growth did slow down at the end and I would’ve been induced due to her size if my waters hadn’t broken the same day. She was born 5lb13oz but healthy. Inducing me due to her size would’ve been absolutely the right call!
Im currently pregnant with my second and will have another growth scan at 36 weeks to check on growth.

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Baby obviously knew she needed to come out! Congratulations on the second pregnancy and hope everything goes well xx

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100%! I had hypermesis with my second pregnancy. He was measuring so small that I had growth scans every two week from 28weeks. At 34 weeks they said I was going to have a 3pound baby and made me your the neonatal unit to prepare for an induction at 36weeks. I was so so worried! Those two weeks were awful! I went for another scan a few days before my induction and the specialist (a different one) literally just went – oh he’s fine I don’t know what they were all talking about, you don’t need inducing he’ll be about 5 pounds. I was livid and happy/angry all at the same time. The mental mind flips were oitbof this world. I now had to ‘wait’ again for baby! Orson came on his due date a perfectly ok and small 5lb 10! Stress over!!!

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Blimey, that is slight differences in weights so I can understand all your emotions. So pleased Orson (great name BTW) arrived safely x

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I was also measuring too small! I went for 3 extra growth scans. At 38 weeks I was induced. My last scan showed a huge decrease in amniotic fluid. I only had 5% left! I hadn’t leaked and there was too much missing for my little one to have swallowed some. They couldn’t explain it. I was given the choice of induction or to come back in a weeks time for another scan. A week of worry and probably given the same options. After checking that it was fine to deliver at this stage, I chose induction. (That is a whole other story. My induction story isn’t a nice one. Due to staff shortages and a stay in NICT).

I had a gorgeous boy weighing 6lbs 2oz and 48cm. He was measured in the 9th percentile (for weight) up until his 1st birthday. He now sits o the 50th percentile.

The experts do really know what they’re doing. Some are just better at reassuring you!

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Hi Gem. Gosh that must have been scary and so strange as to where all that fluid went! So pleased he arrived safely and is growing well. x

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I had a growth scan last Monday at 38 weeks as rather than growing two centimetres I appeared to have shrunk by six… my growth chart looked ridiculous! I’ve been measured by 5 different midwives due to annual leave etc and I think they all measured slightly differently – but it was still good to have the scan confirm all was ok as I was born 4 weeks early as I’d stopped growing myself so I was concerned that it could be the same story.

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So pleased the scan showed everything was ok Katie. This was exactly my issue with Alice in terms of different people measuring me differently. Good luck with the last few weeks of your pregnancy x

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I had lots of growth scans and, like you, was really worried about the implications for baby. Apparently taller ladies often measure ‘small’ because there’s more space in the pelvis for baby to grow before effecting your fundal height…that’s what our lovely sonographer said!
However, we are now dealing with a sternocleidomastoid ‘tumour’ because it would seem that baby didn’t have quite enough room to stretch her neck out once she engaged. That was quite a fright to find when she was only 12 days old. The thing is, the doctors are keen to reiterate that there’s nothing we could have done to avoid this, it doesn’t make me feel much better though! Referral for physio and treatment on Thursday and most cases have absolutely no long term effects.

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Oh and after all those growth scans, she arrived and weighed 3.9kg!! Ha! We love our chubby chops baby xx

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I didn’t know that about taller people, might explain my small bump with Molly. So sorry to hear about your little one being poorly and I hope everything goes well with her treatment xx

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I had growth scans with my daughter, at 26 weeks my bump was measuring big, at my next appointment I had hardly grown. Midwife was great and got me an apppintment for the next day. Was a bit of a worry overnight but thankfully everything was fine – she was just a big girl! Carried on getting growth scans throughout the rest of my pregnancy to determine if I could try for a vaginal birth or have a c section. Always worrying to be put forward for additional scans but reassuring when you see you healthy baby 👶🏻

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As you say it is worrying but at least you know they are doing it for the right reasons and an extra chance to see your baby is always good x

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Yes great to see the baby as much as possible! They estimated she would be about 9lbs if I went full term. I was Baby Daisy (with the help of forceps 😬) 2 weeks early – weighing in at 8lbs 15oz!!! Dread to think her weight if I had gone full term!

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Every routine bump measurement with the community midwife team has shown my bump measuring small so each have been followed by a growth scan just to be sure – thankfully so far all is well with baby, I either just have a small bump or it’s the inconsistencies of different midwives measurements.

At one midwife appointment when bump was measuring smaller then the previous two weeks ago she explained that they should be using paper tape measures as the traditional tape ones stretch over time 🙄 I find it a little frustrating that they put so much emphasis on the bump measurement yet there’s so many variables. Never the less, the growth scans are a nice chance to see baby again!

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It’s so frustrating isn’t it? There are so many variables to the bump size, including stretchy tape measures :) x

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I had to have extra growth scans as my baby was showing as on the large side… They tracked her at around the 90th percentile and I had to have tests for gestational diabetes (which were negative). They decided to induce me a week after my due date as the concern was that she would get too big for my pelvis (I’m only 5ft!) It’s always worrying having to go for extra scans but the consultants were very reassuring and kept reminding me that a ‘big baby is a healthy baby’!

Valentina finally arrived (after a 32 hour labour and emergency c-section) at a whopping 8lb 13oz, bang on the 90th percentile they’d estimated – I have a sneaky suspicion that this might have been due to the fact I’d developed a chocolate-orange-a-day habit during pregnancy…..!

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Blimey Tamsin, 8lbs 13oz is an achievement! Adore the name Valentina, so so cute. Plus absolutely nothing wrong with a chocolate orange habit, I’d happily have one now!! xx

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I’m currently 24 weeks pregnant and I am having a growth scan at 32 weeks as it was discovered by blood test at 12 weeks that I have a lower than normal level of PAPP-A. This apparently is a new test, at least in Nottingham, that measure the level ig growth hormone. After having a previous miscarriage (also have a healthy three year old) this sent my anxiety levels into overdrive! Googled this initially but my Midwife reassured me that I should not worry, it just means I get monitored more. Basically it can indicate all sorts of problems or nothing at all!
Do feel better about it now & will keep my fingers crossed & hope for the best!

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Hi Jen (from another Jen!)
I’m 16 weeks and have also just had a letter saying my PAPP-A was low and that I’ll need extra scans every 4 weeks from 20 weeks onwards. I have my midwife appointment on thursday so haven’t had a chance to talk about it yet, but glad yours has reassured you. I was straight on google too and lots of women were saying the were told they had this but not given any extra care so at least we are being kept an eye on!
As you said it’s a fairly new test, but I’d be interested to hear from anyone else who’s had this and if it affected their baby at all. As a first timer, and IVF pregnancy I am quite nervous!

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Hi Jen, try not to worry and I’m sure everything will be absolutely fine. The good thing is you are being monitored. I’ve not heard of that test so that’s really interesting to know about. Good luck with the rest of your pregnancy x

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I was sent for a growth scan as my bump was measuring small only to then be told my baby was too big! My midwives were quite put out by that. Thankfully a test for gestational diabetes was negative and my bump measurements evened out. My son was born 4 days early weighing a respectable 7lb 11.5oz.

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From one extreme to the other Sarah! Glad everything turned out ok and sounds like he was slap bang in the middle really xx

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I had the frightening experience of my baby measuring small at the 20 week scan – not just small but the femur lengths were off the bottom of the chart. This news wasn’t delivered well when the sonographer offered almost tearfully said she was so sorry and then left the room without offering any explanation. We were booked in for a detailed growth scan at a specialist fetal unit which confimed baby was indeed off the chart. Unfortunately it’s a long waiting game – my consultant said they’d keep a close eye on us, scanning at least every 4 weeks, and baby would plot his own chart. I was offered genetic testing at 23 weeks but DS had already been ruled out and we refused any further tests. We bumped agonisingly slowly, but upwards, along the 0.4 centile until 38 weeks when a routine scan showed decreased cord flow and reduced amniotic fluid – the consultant then asked me when I’d last eaten. Cue an emergency but very calm and controlled c section. I delivered a healthy and perfectly formed but very tiny baby boy – 4lbs 15ozs – who was whipped to SCBU for a little extra care for a few days. My wonderful son is now 3 and still small and probably always will be, but I think to myself every day how incredibly lucky we are. Trust your instincts but please trust your doctors. I didn’t have the perfect pregnancy or birth in many ways but those scans saved his life and for that I’ll be eternally grateful.

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Wow what an experience! Glad to hear the happy ending ☺

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My first baby was born on his due date, weighing a small but perfectly healthy 6lb & 2oz. It was never mentioned at the time that his size was an issue as such, just lots of comments from midwives & health visitors about how tiny he was. So, when I was pregnant with my second baby, I was surprised to receive a letter from the hospital shortly after my 12wk scan inviting me to an appointment with a consultant just before my 20wk scan due to my previous baby being small.

We went along to the appointment thinking it was all a little unnecessary and silly but the consultant rather tactlessey stated that they would be monitoring baby’s growth due to IUGR (Intrauterine Growth Restriction) of which still birth was an associated risk. Hearing those words frightened me to death and it was only through doing a bit more reading when we got home & speaking to my lovely midwife that it suddenly sounded not so scary after all and I started to look at it as a positive thing that they would be keeping a close eye & that we’d get to see baby so often. We had growth scans every two weeks from 28wks onwards and Edie was eventually born 10 days late weighing a whopping 8lb 7oz!

It is worrying the moment someone mentions risk or growth or not perfect and I think that sometimes a consultant or midwife might scare you unintentionally simply because it’s not the first time they’ve dealt with something the same or similar but to you… well it’s your baby and your body so it’s a much bigger deal. But they do know what they’re doing!

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My little girl was born at 38 +1 via emergency section and was only 4lb 13oz (0.9% centile), due to undiagnosed complications with the placenta, meaning she hadn’t been able to build up any fat reserves. She was so diddy!! Had been measuring exactly on schedule, so no one had any idea that anything was wrong. It does pose the question that maybe 3rd trimester scans should be more widely offered as routine, as this would have been picked up from 32 weeks.

Currently 21 weeks with number 2, so this time, i am having regular scans and consultant appointments, with a personalised growth report and additional blood pressure checks. I am scheduled to have appointments with my consultant & scans every 2-4 weeks from 28 weeks , alongside all of the standard midwife appointments, and have been warned to expect baby to possibly need eviction early depending on how things are progressing. To be honest, its quite scary, knowing that I am at an increased risk of complications, but just got to have faith that any deterioration will be picked up in good time and plans can be formed.

positive thinking!! 😀

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I hope all goes well. I also had a tiny first baby after a complicated pregnancy (including placental issues) and was monitored very closely through my second pregnancy which I felt very reassured by, although I worried myself sick thinking the same thing could happen again. Baby number 2 was delivered by c section at 39+5 (only because she was breech), weighed 7lbs 7ozs and was perfectly healthy. Enjoy the rest of your pregnancy. Sending you lots of positive thoughts x

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I had a growth scan with my 3rd baby as I was measuring 5cm over from around 32 weeks. She was fine, not overly huge when born, but the scan resulted in them keeping me in about something totally different – she was lying oblique and at risk of cord prolapse. Went in for one thing, came out with something entirely different to worry about! All fine in the end though, the tape measure thing amuses me now – I know its a useful tool, but it seems such an archaic way to monitor a baby when we have so many other, far advanced tools available!

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Lottie Manns
13th June 2017 9:12 pm

It really does seem such an old fashioned method doesn’t it? xx

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I never had any extra growth scans and never really had any idea how big my second baby would be (never really was told anything about the growth of my first either and she was a perfect 7lb 4oz), until I asked a few weeks before I was due, as I was worried at how big I was getting!

My midwife said that the baby was measuring around 7lb 8oz when I asked again at a week overdue and went for a sweep, but I felt he must be bigger as I was definitely larger and bump felt heavier than my first pregnancy. So feeling reassured I thought it might be extra fluid. Anyway cut to 11 days overdue (the day before I was meant to be induced) and I gave birth in the water to a healthy baby boy weighing in at 9lb 3oz!! They also said his head was measuring on the large side at the 91st centile when he was born! Definitely needed that extra gas and air and knew that I was right and that he definitely was a larger baby. Maybe my midwife just fibbed so I wouldn’t be so scared?! 😅

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Lottie Manns
13th June 2017 9:12 pm

Nicola, that is an achievement. I was always glad I had little babies!!! But mother’s instinct obviously does exist even before baby is here. xxx

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Hi Jen

I’m exactly the same, first timer, IVF baby and low Papp A. Apparently it’s not uncommon in IVF babies (I’ve read). I’ve also been having monthly scans since 20 weeks and so far so good. What other people have said is so true, everyone midwife /Dr etc measures differently and my chart is totally random, first she was huge, now possibly small but I’m 37 weeks and the consultant is not worried, just being cautious which I’m more than happy with. Take your lead from them, they won’t risk anything for you or your baby and try not to worry. The best advice I received what just know what’s normal in terms of your baby’s movements as these issues overlap and NEVER think twice about going to triage or your midwife if you notice a change.
In a way it’s nice to get to see your baby so regularly and it’s all worth it in the end, apparently!

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jennifer sanders
14th June 2017 12:31 pm

Thanks Laura. I hadn’t read anything about the IVF link but with all those artificial hormones being being pumped in it makes sense they could affect something like this.
Best of luck with your last few weeks, and thanks for the reassurance x

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I have a feeling that they will soon get rid of the bump measurements at every visit just because they can be so wildly different as you point out Lottie.

I was measuring well well above the 98th centile until week 31 when I dropped off the chart to below the 0.4th. Clearly I was completely terrified despite the midwife trying to reassure me – in so much as saying that the tape measurements can’t be trusted! Luckily I managed to get a scan 2 days later to be told that actually my baby was measuring on the 98th centile.. so off I went for gestational diabetes testing..which was negative.

Throughout my pregnancy the world and his wife told me my bump was tiny (interesting what Anon said above – I am quite tall too) – I think I would have worried had I not been quietly confident my baby would be huge as my sisters and I were all over 9lb 13!

Then again when I got to 41 weeks I was only measuring at 38… and then when she finally came at 42 weeks.. she was 10lb 12!

So in summary – I fully agree with your reassurance Lottie. If you’ve measured big or small bump wise, don’t worry. They will do a growth scan and check. Your bump can change so much due to the baby’s position, how full your bladder is, how strong your stomach muscles are…

xx

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Lottie Manns
13th June 2017 9:10 pm

Blimey, you definitely had it up and down with the differing sizes but hat’s off to you with your 10lb 12. That’s amazing. I am definitely starting to think that the tall/small bump is true after all these comments. That said, my bump in my second pregnancy felt massive, although that could have been digestive biscuits…. x

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We had no concerns our baby was small but then everything changed when I had a partial placental abruption at 34 weeks. This led to further monitoring and a scan at 36 weeks confirming a small baby (IUGR) and reduced amniotic fluid. I was induced at 37 weeks and he was born 2 days later weighing a tiny 4lb 13.

Luckily he has gone from strength to strength and doesn’t seem to have affected him.

It’s really reassuring to know those who have had growth issues in their first pregnancy have been monitored more closely in their second pregnancy as this is a big worry for me if/ when we may be lucky enough to have a second.I echo the comments above that it’s nice to be closely monitored and kept a closer eye on to prevent complications.

Great topic, thanks Lottie.

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Lottie Manns
13th June 2017 9:06 pm

So sorry to hear about your complications Dani but so happy your little boy is doing so well. I can definitely re-assure you that if you have had complications in your first pregnancy, whatever they are, you will be under constant monitoring. I found all my consultant appointments in my second pregnancy very re-assuring and they will pick up on anything straight away so don’t worry xx

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My first growth scan was booked after my lovely but slightly scatty midwife measured my bump wrong and too early. My bump measured in the 9th centile and I then had growth scans every 2 weeks throughout the pregnancy with my measurements consistently being on the same centile. The consultant and sonographers said each time there was no need to come back but every time my midwife measured me she referred me for another scan. I didn’t mind as it was lovely to see baby Layla so often and the reassurance was there that everything was ok. I didn’t feel Layla move often as I had an anterior placenta – I don’t think I could have gone the third trimester without seeing her!

One other thing I remember about the growth scans was seeing different parts of Layla grow at different rates and at different times – for a while she had a big head and little legs and all I could picture was that I was growing E.T inside me! Obviously I wasn’t and Layla’s legs had caught up by the time she was born.

One thing I am grateful for with the growth scans is that I had one at 37.5 weeks and contrary to what the midwife had felt it showed that Layla was breech and with her head up in my ribs. She ended up being born by caesarean at 38.5 weeks as it was also identified around that time that I had developed preeclampsia. If it wasn’t for the growth scan showing that she was breech so late on in the pregnancy, I would have been induced and faced with a breech delivery that would have resulted in an emergency caesarean anyway due to the preeclampsia – it saved us an awful lot of stress!

Anyway Layla was a compact 5lb 15oz but she has shot up quickly and at her 10 month check up she measured on the 50 centile so she wasn’t tiny for long!

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I was measuring fine throughout my pregnancy. Though looking at my bump, I did worry it was a little small but my husband assured me it’s probably just the way I was carrying the baby. At my 36 week appointment I was diagnosed with sever pre-eclapsia. The doctor immediately mentioned that my bump is small and gave me a quick scan where she told me the baby was below 3rd percentile. Coincidentally I was booked in for a routine growth scan the next day (our hospital offered one to everyone) where they confirmed the baby was going to be tiny. I was induced the next day and my baby was only 4 lb 3 Oz. Luckily she was well developed so she didn’t need special care. After the doctors suggested that she probably stopped growing at around 31 weeks. My experience makes me furious with the midwives who didn’t spot a problem for 5 weeks! I will be consultant led if I have another baby and hope I will be getting regular growth scans.

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I know this post is a few weeks old, but I wanted to comment as it’s very timely! I had a growth scan due to my anxiety levels about how big my baby may be. Good job I did, at 34 weeks, he measured 7lb 8oz (!) and I have excess fluid, and am measuring 3-4 weeks ahead. I was tested for GD and this was fine and no issues. Everyone seems very nonchalant about it, but I’m absolutely terrified. I have another scan in a week and a half and will see how things look then.

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Katie I didn’t want to read this and leave it here. What in particular are you terrified of? Try not to worry. Now they’ve found this out, you still have time for a plan to be made. Whether that’s offering intervention or changing your due date, just be sure to go with your partner to the appointment, and between now and then write all the questions swimming in your head down on paper so you know you’ll get them answered. It’s a good thing that you and the team have the information now instead of finding it out on your baby’s birthday. I would hazard a guess that the nonchalance you picked up on is because there’s still time for a plan to be made.
Be proud of you and your bod for doing such a brilliant job growing your baby :) You can do this!

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Lottie Manns
12th July 2017 9:12 pm

Hi Katie. Please don’t worry at all. The scans just help them identify any issues and they would act quickly if they had concerns. The next scan may show that baby has levelled out, they sometimes do, so just see how that one goes. Good luck xxx

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