6.1.3  Pubic bones and the symphysis pubis

The pubic bones on either side form the front part of the pelvis. The two pubic bones meet in the middle at the pubic symphysis. (A symphysis is a very strong bony joint.) The pubic symphysis is immediately below the hair-covered pubic mound that protects the woman’s external genitalia (as shown in Figure 3.2, if you want to look back at it now).

When you examine the abdomen of a pregnant woman, feeling for the top of the pubic symphysis with your fingers is a very important landmark. In Study Session 10, you will learn how to measure the height of the uterus from the pubic symphysis to the fundus (top of the uterus — see Figure 3.3 if you need to remind yourself of the position of the fundus). This measurement enables you to estimate the gestational age of the fetus, i.e. how many weeks of the pregnancy have passed, and whether the fetus is growing at the normal rate.