How to Measure Fundal Height1

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Make an appointment with your doctor or healthcare practitioner.,
Empty your bladder before measuring.,
Change into a hospital gown.,
Lay on the examination table.,
Lay still and breathe normally as the doctor palpates your uterus.,
Allow the doctor to measure your fundal height.,
Get dressed and discuss your results with your doctor.,
If your fundal height measurement is abnormal, schedule a follow-up.

Though measuring your fundal height doesn’t take long, it does typically require an office visit.

Being at the doctor’s office also gives you the added benefit of being able to immediately discuss the results of your fundal height test with your doctor, should anything out of the ordinary be found.;
, Depending on how far along you are in your pregnancy, your doctor may ask you to empty your bladder.

The reason for this is that starting at around the 17-week mark, a full bladder can cause the fundal height measurement to off by a matter of centimeters., Fundal height measurements are fairly precise – a discrepancy of only a centimeter or two can make the difference between a “normal” measurement and an “abnormal one”.

Clothes, belts, and so on can cause small differences in your fundal height, so they are typically removed before measuring. Changing into a hospital gown minimizes the possibility of an inaccurate result and additionally offers your doctor the ability to easily access all areas needed for a good fundal height measurement.

, Your doctor will ask you to lay in a semi-recumbent position (this is simply laying on your back with your head slightly elevated). The semi-recumbent position makes it easy for the doctor to feel for your uterus by palpating the skin near your belly button.

, Before the actual measurement takes place, your doctor or his nurse or midwife will palpate your pregnant uterus to determine the baby’s size, the baby’s positioning and the baby’s presentation.

The doctor, nurse, and/or midwife will also check the volume of amniotic fluid and also attempt to identify the uterine fundus – the point on your stomach where the “top” of the uterus can be felt.

, After the palpation, the doctor will hold a metric-based measurement tape at the top of the uterus (or fundus) and stretch it along the top of your pregnant uterus, measuring along the longitudinal axis.

This means that the doctor will measure from the highest point of your uterus to the top of your symphysis pubis (the area located below your belly button where your pubic bone begins). The doctor will record your fundal height measurement in centimeters and enter it on your chart.
As a very general rule, a woman’s fundal height should be within 1 to 3 centimeters of the baby’s gestational age in weeks. For example, for a woman who’s been pregnant for 20 weeks, a fundal height of about 17-23 cm is expected., After giving you a chance to dress, your doctor will come back and talk to you. At this point, if your fundal height measurement was abnormal, you’ll probably discuss the possibility of additional tests.

, If your measurements do not fall within the normal parameters for your projected due date, this is not always a reason to worry. However, your doctor will probably want you to follow up with a sonogram in order to find out why your measurement was outside of the normal range of values.

This can be for a variety of reasons – some completely harmless, others that are cause for concern (but by no means catastrophic).
Below are many of the causes for an abnormal fundal height:Being especially tall and thin or short and heavy
Having a full bladder
Having twins, triplets, etc.
Abnormally slow or rapid fetal growth
Too little or too much amniotic fluid
Uterine fibroids
Having a child that has settled into breech or another unusual uterine position

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