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Low belly in pregnancy, what it indicates and why it happens

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In pregnancy, having a low belly is usually a source of myths and doubts, as if it is due to some complication. We clarify what factors influence the shape of the pregnant belly and what it means that it is lower than normal.

Written by:

Charity Ruiz

Journalist specializing in health and nutrition

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Updated: September 22, 2021

The shape of the belly is a concern for many pregnant women, and they often ask their doctor if it is normal or not, especially when the belly is a little low. In addition, there is never a lack of relatives or friends who indicate that this is a sign that delivery is just around the corner because the baby has been placed face down to be born, but it is not true. "It is more a myth than anything else," says Dr. Ignacio Cristóbal García, director of the Women's Health Institute of the San Carlos Clinical Hospital in Madrid.

That the pregnant woman has a low tummy "does not necessarily imply that the birth is close, since labor will not begin until the contractions begin, and that may take a few more weeks," emphasizes Dr. Paula Marín Mato, Physician Attached to the Gynecology and Obstetrics Service of the Fundación Jiménez Díaz University Hospital in Madrid.

Barriga baja en el embarazo, qué indica y por qué ocurre

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Why is the belly lower at the end of pregnancy?

It is true that at the end of the third trimester of pregnancy the belly is lower than at the beginning of it. “The uterus grows during pregnancy until it reaches the maternal costal arch. In later weeks, as the fetus's head settles further into the pelvis, the uterus descends a little, putting less pressure on the stomach and lungs. This means that women feel easier to breathe and that digestion improves, with fewer episodes of gastroesophageal reflux. Physically you can identify that the gut is lower”, says Dr. Paula Marín Mato.

Is the lower stomach a symptom of any complication?

Gynecologists can measure the "fundal height," which is the distance from the symphysis pubis to the fundus of the uterus. “Generally, after week 24, the uterine height usually corresponds to the weeks of pregnancy, with a difference of two. With this, we can estimate whether fetal growth and amniotic fluid are consistent with the weeks of gestation," says the gynecologist from the Fundación Jiménez Díaz.

When that height of the belly is lower than expected, disorders such as:

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However, today there are other more scientific methods to know if there is a problem or not. “Actually today we should not look at the situation of the gut during pregnancy, since it is not indicative of pathology and it can mean that the pregnant woman becomes more nervous thinking that something is happening”, says Dr. Cristóbal García. "Fortunately, the concepts 'high or low gut' as subjective assessments, are not part of the current scientific method based on objective facts, on scientific evidence", insists Dr. Marín Mato.

For this reason, today if the doctor suspects that there may be a problem, he requests an ultrasound, "because having a lower abdomen is not indicative of anything," explains Dr. Cristóbal García. Obstetric ultrasound “allows estimating the week of gestation, the position and estimated weight of the fetus, the amount of amniotic fluid, the position of the placenta, the length of the cervix (important to know if there is risk preterm labor…). Some routine ultrasounds are done, and whenever there is suspicion that there may be something wrong, ”she adds.

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Other changes in the pregnant woman's gut: what do they mean?

Throughout pregnancy, there may be some changes in the shape of the gut that could be a symptom of some complication, but as we have already mentioned, it must be confirmed with an ultrasound.

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Created: September 20, 2021

Tags:
third trimester of pregnancy
pregnancy disorders
women's health
Live the pregnancy

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