Intrauterine growth restriction can happen if your baby stops growing at a normal rate. The basic definition among doctors is a baby who is in the tenth percentile or less for its age. This happens in about five percent of all pregnancies.
The size of your uterus is measured at each visit. This determines the fundal height, which is the measurement to the top of the uterus. If there is no change in this measurement from one visit to the next, your doctor may suspect intrauterine growth restriction. A measurement of more than three centimeters below normal for your stage of pregnancy is cause for alarm.
The doctor will do a variety of tests to determine IUGR after a low measurement. An ultrasound may be done to take measurements of the baby’s head, abdomen and femur bone. If these are low, further testing may be done. A non stress test may be done to determine the condition of the baby.
A biophysical profile is another test the doctor may order. This is a combination of a non stress test and an ultrasound. The ultrasound looks at the level of amniotic fluid, the baby’s movements, muscle tone and respiration. These tests give the doctor a better picture of the baby’s condition.
It’s important for your dates to be accurate when diagnosing intrauterine growth restriction. If you are not sure of the date of your last menstrual cycle, this can be determined by ultrasound. Early ultrasound, prior to twenty weeks of pregnancy, is more accurate at determining the age of the baby. Ultrasounds prior to the thirteenth week are the most accurate at predicting the exact age of the baby.
The treatment of this condition depends on the health of the mother and the baby. If the growth restriction is the result of a maternal health condition, such as pre eclampsia, the mother will be treated. Bed rest is often prescribed in this case. The baby will be monitored closely to help ensure a healthy infant.
In some cases, you will be allowed to carry the baby to term. If the condition is mild and doesn’t get worse, the doctor will likely let the pregnancy continue to give the baby time to gain weight. If the baby isn’t doing well, you may need to deliver early. The doctor may give you steroids to help with lung maturity. If the baby is extremely weak, you may need a c section.
Most babies with intrauterine growth restriction do well after delivery. Low birth weight is common among these babies. After birth, most grow very well. They gain weight and many grow to be of normal size. A smaller percentage may stay small throughout early childhood.
Things You Can Do:
* Get adequate nutrition
* Get plenty of rest
* Don’t smoke
* Avoid alcohol and drugs
Remember that even if you do everything right, IUGR can still happen. In many cases, it is the result of a problem with the placenta. There is nothing you can do to prevent this. Good, regular prenatal care is the best gift you can give your baby. This will help the doctor diagnose any problems and will ensure you and your baby get the best possible care.