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WEEK 27 & 28- Measuring Small

Part 21, Trying for Another Blog Series

This week I went on a vacation to Mendocino with my family, my parents, and my brother’s family. We stayed at an AirBnB that my parents had reserved for us since 2020- covid delayed the trip until now. We had a great time, letting the cousins play together is always the best. Their ages right now are: 2 (Elliott), 4 (Ella), 5 (Fletcher), 6 (Anders), and 12 (Julian).

At 28 weeks and 4 days I had my 28 week standard prenatal appointment at Kaiser. With each appointment I’m a little concerned that my belly will be measuring too small (because that’s what I constantly hear from people), and sure enough, at this appointment it came true. The normal range Kaiser considers at 28 weeks is 26-30cm (+/- 2 cm from the week). I measured 24 cm, so 2cm under the low end of the normal range. What they’re measuring is the size of my uterus, which is potentially indicative of baby’s size, but not necessarily.

With Anders’ pregnancy, I measured small around 36 weeks, and an ultrasound determined that it was because I was low on amniotic fluids (a condition that does not necessarily repeat itself in future pregnancies). So worst case scenario would be that my belly is measuring small because baby has stopped developing or is not developing at a proper rate. But there are many other reasons why my uterus could be small.

My OB went straight to scheduling me an ultrasound to check out the details, to which I asked what my options are if I were to forgo the ultrasound. She kindly replied that it was totally fine to come back in two weeks to check measurement again (2 weeks before my next standard appointment at 32 weeks) instead of doing an ultrasound. She said that the baby could be coiled up right now, or if it’s normal for me to carry small then it could also be nothing, and that 90% of the time the ultrasounds come back normal. So we scheduled my next appointment for 2 weeks out and she sent me on my way.

About an hour later, as fear began to set in, I texted my friend/client and amazing resource, Dr. Jen Santos of Acorn Chiropractic Club. I told her what happened and asked her for her thoughts. She responded, “my thoughts are that I want to do some body balancing work on you.” "Great," I thought, relieved that she had an idea! I drove to her Petaluma office that afternoon, unsure of what to expect, but in trust of The Best.

Jen took me into her back office and said, “ok, we’re gonna get into some hippy stuff now” She had me face the wall with my hands on the wall and hips a foot or so away. She placed her hands on my hips and told me to move in whatever way felt necessary. I swayed my hips in circles and back and forth for a minute or so. Then she had me lay on a table, face up. She worked on my hips ranges of motion, and then began palpating in my abdominal area. She was feeling up and down on my core, like she was massaging my abs. When she got to the my lower abs I felt quite a bit of tension, like my abs were really tight.

After some feeling around she said, “Ok, what exercises are you doing?” I’m like, “everything, just more toned down.” She said she wants me to stop doing core exercises because my abs are so tight that they are restricting my uterus’s growth. Yikes! That is not something I had ever considered! Jen proceeded to show me three ab release exercises: forward leaning inversion, side lying release, and crawling, and said that I need to practice “looking pregnant” by releasing and relaxing my abs as much and often as possible. And that she was not concerned yet.

Holy Moly. I left Jen’s office feeling a lot better because I felt like there was something I could do to fix it! Versus leaving the doctor’s office with no recommendation or information other than there might be a problem, we just have to wait and see. There was no consideration of my abs, even though I had just had a conversation with the doctor about me being a personal trainer. She had asked what type of exercises I teach and I said I focus a lot on the core and pelvic floor, to which she responded, “that’s great, there’s not enough focus on that.”

Now I can’t say for sure that my tight abs is the cause of my belly measuring small, but it does make perfect sense. After a day of doing these exercises I feel like my belly had grown a bit, and that my uterus had shifted up because I feel the baby’s movements higher.

I checked in with another one of my resources, Mamastefit, who shares a wealth of information on prenatal/postnatal training on social media and online. I emailed one of the owners asking her opinion, to which she said that she didn’t think it was necessary to stop doing core exercises, but to make sure to do them with proper emphasis on releasing on the inhale. I agree with this advice, but not at the stage I’m at, where growth is already showing signs of restriction. I think the only thing I should focused on doing with my core right now is trying to relax and release it.

When I asked her what she thought about my about my abs causing uterus growth restriction, she said she didn’t think that was a plausible cause. Ugh. My heart sank to my stomach, and I immediately regretted asking her. Why do I do this- ask everyone’s opinions, only to be disappointed and realize that nobody knows anything!!

The next couple of days were hard for me. I felt sad. I felt worried that I had done something to cause harm to my baby. Worried that something was wrong. I considered calling Kaiser to schedule the ultrasound after all because I couldn’t take the anxiety of waiting. But I managed to keep my mind off of it by focusing on my love for the kids, and waiting until my next training sessions with Jen.

My prenatal appointment was on Tuesday, which is also when I saw Jen, and then I saw Jen again a few days later on Friday. After her training session, she checked my belly. She measured it (using my husband’s construction style tape measure) and found it measured almost 28 cm, measuring two different ways- 4 cm more than the doctor’s measurement, and within normal range! She said my uterus had shifted already and then my belly looked a lot bigger as well. My hope reignited.

I quizzed her on worst case scenarios and what she thought about Mamastefit's opinion. She said that worst case scenario is Intrauterine Growth Restriction, where the baby’s growth is restricted, which can lead to miscarriage or having to birth the baby early- worst case scenario. I am not there yet. I am not there yet. I am not there yet. I must repeat to myself. And I do not feel like I will be there, nor does Jen. But here’s how my thought process goes… is waiting two weeks too long? What if this has been going on for four weeks already and the baby hasn’t developed since then? Is the baby more at risk? Should I just go in and get checked?

Jen said she’ll do another unwinding (Dynamic Body Balancing) session on me sometime next week. And my goal is to keep my headspace good and my belly big. I’m trying to release control of all else. And not let this cloud looming above me ruin my next week and a half. But it's definitely there.

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