Thursday, December 20, 2007

Finding your fundal height

There are times in every woman's pregnany where they have a nagging feeling about the baby, or they are just curious and want to understand their body. Measuring fundal height can give you information about the size of your baby, if he or she is growing correctly, if you have 'dropped' in preparation of labor, and if it is likely that there is more than one baby.

Fundal height refers to how tall your uterus is. The bottom of your uterus is measured from your pubic bone, the one that sticks out in front under your hairline. The top of your uterus (or fundus) is found at different places depending on where you are in your pregnancy. When you are not pregnant, it rests in the pelvis behind the pubic bone.

Nonpregnant Uterus

Your nonpregnant uterus is about the size of your fist. Hard to believe that is how small it is, and how it can cause you so much irritation for your monthly cycle, isn't it? It rests in your pelvis and the cervix (bottom portion) of it can be felt at the top of your vagina.

Finding your fundus in pregnancy.

To find your fundus in pregnancy, you lay flat on your back. On the floor works the best, or some other hard surface. You will want a measuring tape that measures centimeters with you, a flexible one like the kind used for sewing works the best, but a ruler can work as well. While laying on your back, locate your pubic bone. If you know what week you are in your pregnancy, you can lay the measuring tape on your belly, with the '0' of it resting on your pubic bone. Then count up in cm until you get to your number of weeks. Start feeling around, while relaxing so your muscles are not tense, and you will soon feel a vague ridge that is your uterus. Once you have found it a couple times, it becomes easier. It is generally within 4 cm, plus or minus, of your gestational age in weeks. So, if you are 12 weeks your uterus could be 8 cm or 16 cm and that is still considered normal.

Alternative to a measuring tape

If you do not have a measuring tape with you, and you are still curious, an age old method is to use your fingers, the width of one finger is one week.

What the number tells you
If your uterus is measuring larger than 4 weeks ahead of your expected gestational age, it can mean a few things. You could be carrying twins, you could have your due date wrong, or your baby may be growing bigger than normal, due to something like gestational diabetes. It is worth looking into a little further. If you have had more than 2 pregnancies, it is common to measure larger. If you are a larger woman, it is common for that to add a little bit to your measurement as well.

If your uterus is measuring smaller than 4 weeks behind, then you may want to look into that a little more. It could indicate, again, that you just have your due dates wrong, or it could indicate something more serious like your baby is not receiving enough nutrients and is not growing well.

If you measure your fundus weekly, you can keep a chart. This will be helpful for making sure that your pregnancy is progressing as expected and can give you assurance that your baby is growing. This can also help you to determine when you 'drop' or the baby's head engages in the birth canal in preparation for labor.

I hope this helps you to feel confident in your body. As with all things, if you have questions or concerns, be sure to do your research and ask your healthcare professional if needed.


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