When you're carrying small

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 Photo: Getty Images

Fiona Trewhitt sported a "very big" bump in her first pregnancy. In her second pregnancy, however, she carried small - "so it was a huge contrast", she says.

She wasn't the only one to notice the contrast. "People made loads of comments about the way I ate or exercised and about how concerned I should be," she says of her smaller bumped-pregnancy.  

While Fiona wasn't overly concerned, her obstetrician was cautious, organising extra scans to monitor her baby's growth. "I kind of felt [the scans] were unnecessary and expensive, but did it anyway to be safe and sure," Fiona says.

Thankfully, the scans were all reassuring, and baby Tommy was born a healthy size.

"There was never really an explanation of why I was so small for my second pregnancy, other than how he may have been positioned," she says.

Midwife Amanda Bude says your baby's position, the position of your uterus and your pelvic shape can all influence how you carry.

She says there are also lots of reasons your baby may be small – your child's growth can be limited in pregnancy if you smoke, drink alcohol, use drugs or have poor nutrition. Babies may also be small for gestational age (SGA), growth restricted, or just be genetically small.

And if there's not much fluid around your baby, your bump may also appear less pronounced.

However the size of your bump doesn't necessarily correlate with the size of your baby, as Karly McCaskill discovered.

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Everywhere she went people commented on how little she was showing. While most people were nice about it, one shopkeeper upset her when Karly answered her question and told her she was six months pregnant.

"[The shopkeeper] scoffed and said I was wrong! I was fairly annoyed by that comment and for a few days afterwards started to worry that something may have been wrong," she says.

Karly had already been having extra monitoring in both her pregnancies because she was carrying so small, and each scan continued to reassure her that her babies were growing well. In fact, Karly's first child, Bonnie, was 4.kg at delivery, and her second, Angus, was 3.95kg. "There were certainly no concerns about their size then!" she says.

It turns out Karly is just one of those women who carry small in pregnancy.

And while Fiona isn't necessarily one of those women who carry small during all her pregnancies, she certainly did while pregnant with Tommy. It therefore took her by surprise when her son turned out to be her largest baby, weighing 3.6kg at birth (his siblings were 3.2kg and 3.4kg).

"My advice to other women is to not pay too much attention to what other people say," says Fiona. "Ensure you're taking good care of yourself – especially with regards to nutrition – and tap into your mother's intuition to see if you feel there's anything wrong."

Of course, if you're concerned about the size of your baby, discuss your concerns with your healthcare provider. You may need extra monitoring or other care.

But if you and your healthcare provider are reassured that your baby is growing well and there are no other health concerns, try to brush other people's comments aside and simply enjoy your pregnancy.

After all, good things can certainly come in small packages.