The baby bump is the most beautiful change that occurs in the body of women during pregnancy. It is also one of the most important signs to assess to be able to feel assured the baby is growing fine.
It tells a lot about the baby’s height, the baby’s growth, and much more.
The size of the baby bump is something that people consider as a clue to know the height of the child. But, it is important to know the right ways to interpret the appearance of the baby bump to be able to know the height of the child.
Also, it is not just the baby’s height that determines the size of the baby bump. Other factors like the mother’s height can also have an impact on the same.
Similarly, other than the height of the baby, his or her growth and development and the likelihood of having any anomaly can also change the appearance of the baby bump.
If you are curious to know whether the height of the baby or mother can affect the baby bump and if yes, then, how it affects the belly size; keep reading. We will discuss this topic in detail to understand the effect of height on the baby bump.
Measurement of the baby bump
Pregnancy is undoubtedly a wonderful time in the life of all women. What makes pregnancy a joyful and memorable experience is the feeling of having a new life growing in your own body. It feels divine when your baby starts kicking making you more aware of his or her presence.
And this begins to happen somewhere around the second trimester, which is the same time when your baby bump begins to grow enough to be noticeable.
Women have congratulatory greetings poured on them once the baby bump starts becoming noticeable.
The baby bump is also the most favourite topic of discussion among to-be-moms and to-be-dads. Every parent is eager to feel the baby’s kicks by touching the baby bump.
Measuring the baby bump is also a party trick that is loved by all. The measurement of the baby bump has people guessing about the child’s height and gender. It is also a fun activity that boosts the joy and confidence of mothers. It brings in loads of laughter and moments of happiness during this exciting yet stressful period in the life of women.
Yes, pregnancy is often the most exciting and sometimes, even nerve-wracking time for pregnant women.
Regular visits to a doctor and performing tests are important for women to maintain their own health and their baby’s too.
Most doctors measure the belly of the mother during the visits to their clinic for regular assessment. Pregnant women can also check their belly measurements at home, especially during the second and third trimester, as a way to monitor the growth of the baby.
The belly measurement includes measuring the girth of the abdomen as well as the fundal height.
The measurement of the girth of the abdomen allows doctors to detect a sudden increase or decrease in the size of the abdomen. The increase in the abdominal girth can occur due to reasons like an increase in the amniotic fluid or even having twin babies.
A sudden decrease in the abdominal girth could be a sign of a lack of proper development of the baby. This marks the importance of checking the abdominal grith during pregnancy.
Fundal height is another measurement of the baby bump that needs to be assessed regularly in pregnant women.
In fact, when we say the measurement of the baby bump, it usually means the fundal height.
Measuring the fundal height is considered comparatively more important than measuring the abdominal girth.
Here is more on what exactly fundal height means and why it is an important part of the routine check-ups in pregnant women.
What is the fundal height?
The fundal height refers to the vertical measurement (up and down) of the belly of pregnant women. It is the distance between the pubic bone and the top of the uterus (womb). It provides the measurement of the baby bump in terms of how it has grown vertically providing clues about the growth of the baby, as well as his possible height.
Your doctor may also use the term symphysis-fundal height (SFH) to refer to the fundal height. The symphysis is a scientific term used for bones, which are joined together, such as the ones in the pelvis.
The measurement of the fundal or the symphysis-fundal height in pregnant women can help doctors assess the growth of the baby and even predict the risk of certain complications.
Let us now learn how the height of both the child and the mother can affect the fundal height and when it could be a red flag sign to have a larger or smaller fundal height.
But before that, let us first learn how to measure the fundal height accurately.
How to measure fundal height?
Fundal height is usually measured in centimetres.
To measure it, you need to lay flat on the back on the examination table, just like you do when you are getting an ultrasound scan done.
The doctors will, then, measure the distance between your pelvis area and the top of the uterus using a flexible measuring tape. The top of the uterus is the place where the belly has a sharp slope in the downward direction at the highest point of the bump.
This measurement is noted as a fundal height.
Most physicians measure the baby bump of mothers during each visit to assess the growth of the child on a regular basis. It provides a fairly reliable indicator of the growth of the child in the uterus.
It can also help doctors correlate the size of the baby bump with the results of the ultrasound scan to ensure the baby’s growth with respect to the fundal height matches the number of weeks of pregnancy. For example; at around the 24th week of pregnancy, your fundal height should ideally match the number of weeks you have been pregnant.
Hence, the quick measurement of the fundal height should not be considered just a good party trick. It can be a reliable indicator of the child’s height.
So, if you are worried about whether your child will be taller or shorter in height, you can start the guesswork during pregnancy itself based on the fundal height. You can measure your fundal height on a regular basis throughout your pregnancy, starting from the second trimester, and compare it with the weeks of pregnancy.
In case, the fundal height seems to be longer than the average fundal height expected based on the weeks of your pregnancy, you may consider it is a sign of your baby being taller. Similarly, if your fundal height is shorter than what is expected for the number of weeks of your pregnancy, your child might be shorter in stature.
This is how; the fundal height, when compared to the number of weeks of pregnancy, can help mothers know the height of the baby.
However, this interpretation needs to be made based on some other factors as well. It is not just the height of the baby that determines the fundal height.
The baby bump may look larger even in cases when the child has a shorter or average height. Similarly, there have been cases when the height of the baby bump was shorter even though the baby later grew to be much taller in height.
This suggests that there can be discrepancies in the fundal height and the height of the baby.
Hence, the baby bump can be used as an indicator to know the height of the child only after taking into consideration other elements that can affect the fundal height.
For example; measuring the fundal height can tell a few important things about the pregnancy that could be related as well as unrelated to the child’s height such as the presence of growth and development problems like macrocephaly and microcephaly.
The baby bump may look shorter if the fetus develops a condition called microcephaly that is marked by a smaller size of the head circumference irrespective of his height. Similarly, the baby bump may appear larger even if the baby is shorter in height if he suffers from macrocephaly that is characterized by a larger head circumference.
Hence, the determination of the height of the child should not be based only on the fundal height or the appearance of the baby bump. In short, the height of the baby can nonetheless affect the baby bump; though it is not the only factor affecting it.
Why is it important to check the baby bump during pregnancy?
Pregnant women are advised to check the girth and the height of their baby bump at frequent intervals throughout pregnancy, especially in the second and third trimesters, as it helps them assess how smooth their pregnancy is progressing.
For example; as discussed earlier, the height of the baby bump would provide a better estimate to the doctor about your gestational age or how far you are in the pregnancy.
If your fundal height is about 26 centimetres (+ or – 2 cm), you are probably at around the 26th week of your pregnancy.
Your physician will chart the fundal height over a course of time during different months of pregnancy to make sure you are gaining enough weight corresponding to the gestational age of the pregnancy and that your baby is growing in a healthy and consistent manner.
Measuring your fundal height is also a way to know how large your baby would be not just in terms of height but in terms of weight also.
The fundal height would obviously be more if your baby’s weight is on a higher side. Similarly, your baby bump may look shorter in height if your baby is thin and has a lower body weight. It also tells you about the nutritional status of your child.
The measurement of the fundal height or baby bump is so important that researchers have prepared an international formula to improve the ability of physicians to estimate the baby size and pregnancy weeks.
Let us check what this study has revealed about the effect of the child’s height and the number of weeks of pregnancy on the baby bump.
What does the research say about the size of a baby bump?
Research studies have revealed that the fundal height can provide an easy way to know the height of the baby as well as calculate the number of weeks of the pregnancy. This study was aimed at creating international standards for the symphysis-fundal height derived from the assessment of healthy women at different stages of pregnancies with good maternal as well as perinatal outcomes.
This study has a wider application as it included participants from 8 geographically diverse regions in the world including those from the urban parts of countries like Brazil, India, China, Italy, Oman, the United Kingdom, Kenya, and the United States.
During this study, healthy, and well-nourished women at different stages of pregnancy were enrolled for the Fetal Growth Longitudinal Study. The fundal height of these women was measured as a part of the INTERGROWTH-21st Project at 9 to 14 weeks of gestation, and later, followed up until their delivery.
The symphysis-fundal heights of all women were measured once in every 5 weeks from the 14th week of gestation using standardised methods by a dedicated research staff. The participants and staff were blinded by turning these tape measures such that the lengths of the fundal heights were not visible to them during the examination.
This study has provided international standards for the measurement of the symphysis-fundal height as the first level screening tool for assessing fetal growth. It can also be used as an indicator for predicting the height of the child as well as the possibility of developing complications during pregnancy.
The formulas derived based on the measurements of the fundal heights in pregnant women who participated in this study are as follows:
Median SFH = 5.133374 + (GA2) × 0.1058353119 − (GA2) × 0.0231295 × ln (GA)
Where, SFH refers to the symphysis-fundal height and GA is the gestational age.
The standard deviation of the symphysis-fundal height was expressed by:
SD (for SFH) = 0.0258087 × GA + 0.9922667
Where, SFH is measured in centimeters, SD is the standard deviation, and GA is measured in the exact weeks in decimals (for example; 35+0 and 35+1 weeks of gestation are 35.0 and 35.14 weeks of gestation, respectively). 
What if the fundal height is large?
The baby bump may be larger in size when correlated with the number of weeks of pregnancy in the following cases:
- You, or your partner, or both of you are taller or have the genes that cause the baby to be taller
- You have gained too much weight during pregnancy
- You have been pregnant earlier than you calculated based on your missed periods or the first ultrasound
- Your baby could be bigger in size than average
- Your body type and shape could be causing your stomach to stick out a bit more
- Gestational diabetes 
- You might be having a full bladder or need a bowel movement causing your stomach to stick out higher by nearly 3 centimetres 
What if the fundal height is small?
The baby bump may be smaller in size when correlated with the number of weeks of pregnancy in the following cases:
- Your conception might have happened later than you estimated
- Your baby could be smaller in size, weight, or height
- Your body type or shape could mean your belly does not show as much
- You, or your partner, or both of you are shorter or have the genes that cause the baby to be shorter
- The baby has certain chromosomal conditions that can slow down the growth during pregnancy
- Your baby is not getting enough nutrients, oxygen, and blood supply
- Uterine issues like the placenta limiting the flow of blood and oxygen to the fetus
- You are not eating healthy and nutritious foods, and have a bodyweight less than 100 pounds causing the baby to grow at a pace slower than normal
Importance of measuring baby bump height
Measuring the height of the baby bump is specifically important in places where advanced medical facilities such as ultrasound machines are not available. Women who stay in rural areas often rely on the fundal height measurement to know the height of their baby.
It also helps them be sure of the baby growing at a normal pace. A sudden decrease or increase in the fundal height could serve as a warning sign in these cases and alert the women about the possibility of developing serious complications usually linked to growth retardation.
If they notice such signs, they can seek immediate medical attention to receive further treatment to prevent the risk of miscarriage or stillbirth. Being watchful of fundal height can not just help them know the height of their baby, but also allow them to seek prompt treatment to avert untoward consequences.
Women who have easy access to healthcare facilities can also rely on the measurement of the fundal height to assess the growth of their baby and know the baby’s potential height between their ultrasound scan appointments.
Usually, pregnant women are advised to visit a gynaecologist once every month during the second trimester. They are advised to see a doctor once in 2 weeks during the later months of pregnancy and once a week as the due date approaches.
The longer gaps in the doctor visits in the second trimester can make women feel stressed.
Measuring the fundal height regularly at home using a flexible measuring tape can help them self-assess the progress of their pregnancy. The steady growth in the fundal height can assure them that their baby is growing fine and thus, help them avoid feeling too anxious or stressed out.
Thus, the size of the baby bump and the fundal height can be used by pregnant women to know the height of the baby and assess the baby’s growth quickly and easily without the need for any expensive equipment.
It is possible to know the height of the baby based on the height of the baby bump. If the child’s height is more, the baby bump is likely to be more in length. Similarly, a small baby bump could be a sign of the child being shorter in height.
However, there are several other factors that can determine the size of the baby bump. Some pregnant women may have a longer baby bump in spite of the child being shorter and vice versa.
Hence, while it is important to assess the change in the baby bump over the course of pregnancy as a way to know the baby’s stature, whether taller or shorter, it should not be considered the only factor affecting the baby bump.
Women should focus on assessing the change in the size of the baby bump rather than finding the measurement of the baby bump at any given time during pregnancy. It is important to remember that any sudden change in the size of the baby bump could be a warning sign of impending complications.
Hence, baby bump should not be measured only with an aim to know the child’s height.