Fetal Growth Restriction (FGR) and Stillbirth

During your pregnancy, your midwife or doctor will be monitoring your baby’s growth to make sure they’re growing at a healthy rate.

Fetal growth restriction

Detection and management of a baby that is not growing properly during pregnancy is a key strategy to prevent stillbirth.

Fetal growth restriction (FGR) is defined as a fetus who has not been able to achieve its full growth potential in relation to its gestational age.

The size of your baby is not the only indicator for FGR. Small babies aren’t necessarily growth restricted. Likewise, large babies might have been restricted in their growth, and could have been bigger. When you attend your antenatal appointments your risk factors for FGR are determined. If a diagnosis is made, a plan for ongoing care throughout your pregnancy is discussed.

Research tells us that risks for FGR include:

  • maternal characteristics and medical history including maternal age, IVF, singleton pregnancy, ethnicity, smoking and alcohol consumption
  • previous obstetric history and recent diagnosis such as early FGR, small for gestational age baby or Pre-eclampsia
  • other risk factors that may arise in pregnancy like infection and illness

Red Nose recommends that women attend all of their antenatal appointments, especially if they have any above risk factors. Working together with healthcare providers will help keep you and your baby healthy and safe.

High risk women will be offered additional monitoring, as well as support to address the modifiable risks they may have, such as quitting smoking.

Low risk women are still monitored closely, but more simple techniques can be used to help identify if their baby has FGR, such as symphysis fundal height measurements using a tape measure.

Most pregnancies are straight forward and culminate in the birth of a healthy baby. To help keep you and your baby as healthy as possible, ensure you eat well, participate in gentle exercise and cease alcohol, drug and smoking consumption.

For more information on your baby’s health during pregnancy, visit our advice hub.


Fetal Growth Restriction (FGR): A fetus that has not reached its growth potential.

Early FGR: Fetal growth restriction diagnosed at less than 32w gestation.

Late FGR: Fetal growth restriction disagnosed at more than 32w gestation.

Sever FGR: A fetus that is less than 3rd centile when measured.

Small for gestational age (SGA): A fetus with an estimated fetal weight/birthweight less than 10th centile.

Last modified: 23/1/20