Fetal growth restriction

Some babies who aren’t growing well have what's known as fetal growth restriction. This means they’re smaller and lighter than they should be for that stage of pregnancy.

Your baby’s growth measurement should be recorded at all of your check-ups. This will help you to see whether they’re growing well.

Why your baby might be smaller than usual

Your baby may be small for lots of reasons, such as:

  • your placenta isn't giving them what they need to grow
  • they have a health condition which is stopping them from growing
  • your diet's lacking in healthy food
  • you're a smoker - smoking can affect your baby's growth
  • you could have pre-eclampsia

Not all small babies have fetal growth restriction. Some babies are naturally small, and some catch up and grow later in pregnancy. Most small babies are born healthy and grow into healthy children.

If your baby isn't growing well

If your baby isn’t growing well:

  • it should be picked up during antenatal appointments - this is a good reason to make sure you always go
  • you might need to have check-ups more often

Fetal growth restriction makes a stillbirth more likely, so it’s important that it’s spotted early.

Further information, other languages and alternative formats

Translations and alternative formats of this information are available from Public Health Scotland.

Simplified Chinese (Mandarin)

Last updated:
25 January 2023