The uterus (womb) is a small, pear-shaped organ that is part of the reproductive system of people assigned female at birth. It is only 7 cm long and is tucked away deep in the pelvis. In early pregnancy, hormone signals initiate the growth of the uterus to accommodate your growing baby.
Though the uterus grows rapidly during the first trimester, most people can't feel their uterus in early pregnancy. But by the 12th week of pregnancy, the uterus has stretched and grown significantly. By using this procedure you can find it and feel where it is. For many pregnant people, this is a helpful way to gain insights and awareness of the changes occurring during pregnancy
How to Feel Your Uterus: Step-by-Step Guide
About the size of a grapefruit, the uterus completely fills the pelvis and may be felt by palpating your abdomen. As your uterus continues to stretch out of the pelvis, it may become easier to find it.
Some pregnant people may be able to feel their uterus before they are 12 weeks pregnant. If this is not your first pregnancy, it may be easier to find early on. If you've been pregnant before, your uterus did not shrink back to its original size and gets a "head start" on growth in subsequent pregnancies. Other reasons that you might find it earlier include an incorrect due date, a multiple pregnancy, excess amniotic fluid, or uterine fibroids.
For most pregnant people, following these steps at around week 12 will help you to find and feel the place where your baby is growing.
At 12 weeks pregnant, the top of your uterus is just slightly above your pelvic bone. From this point on, your obstetrician or midwife will feel your uterus and measure it at each of your prenatal appointments. If you'd like to feel your uterus, follow these steps:
- Make sure your bladder is empty. This will make it easier to find your uterus.
- Lie flat on your back and take a few deep breaths to help yourself relax and focus.
- Find your pubicbone. This is above your pubic hairline and can help you more easily locate your uterus.
- Place the flat of your left palm on the middle of your belly just above your pubic bone with your fingers pointing right and your elbow pointing left.
- Use the flat of your left palm to lift away any skin and fat padding up towards your ribs and away from your pubic bone.
- While supporting your belly with your left hand, place your right hand just above your pubic bone with your fingers pointing down towards the bone.
- Gently press the fingers of your right hand into your belly and walk your fingertips down until you touch your pubic bone.
- Curve your fingers gently into your belly and "rock" your fingers in and out of your belly while pushing down.
- If you feel a semi-firm "ball," you've found the top of your uterus, which should be just slightly above your pubic bone.
If you're unable to locate your uterus after a couple of attempts, take a break and try again the following week. Feeling your uterus during pregnancy isn't necessary, but some people like to use this method to connect with their unborn baby and consider it a bonding experience. You don't need to worry about hurting your baby as you gently palpate your stomach. Your baby is protected and cushioned by amniotic fluid.
Feeling Your Uterus After Twelve Weeks of Pregnancy
As your pregnancy progresses, the top of your uterus will gradually get higher up in your abdomen. At 13 weeks, your uterus should be above your pubic bone and may be easier to find. If you still can't find it at this stage, don't worry. Try again the following week.
By the time you are 14 weeks pregnant, it should be much easier to find your uterus. At this stage, the top of your womb should be about two finger-widths above your pubic bone. At 16 weeks, your uterus should be between the top of your pubic bone and navel, making it even easier to feel the firm "ball" that is your growing uterus.
Reasons It Might Be Hard to Feel Your Uterus
There are several reasons why you may have difficulty feeling your uterus early in pregnancy, such as:
- Early pregnancy. If you are 12 weeks pregnant or less, your uterus is likely still hidden behind your pubic bone.
- Inaccurate due date. Your due date may be inaccurate and you are not as far along as you previously thought.
- This is your first baby. If this is your first pregnancy and you are 12 weeks along or less, your abdominal muscles may be too tight to feel the uterus.
- You are overweight. If you are carrying extra pounds, body fat on your abdomen may make it difficult to feel your uterus. Try pushing your belly fat up towards your ribs to make it easier to locate the uterus. As your pregnancy progresses, it should be easier to locate and feel.
If you're unable to find your uterus on your own, talk to your healthcare provider. Obstetricians and midwives have expertise in finding and measuring the uterus to track the growth of babies in utero. Your provider can help teach you a safe method for feeling your own uterus so you can connect with your baby in this way from the comfort of your own home.