Birthing a Predicted Big Baby

In medical terminology big babies are known as “foetal macrosomia” (a label given to an infant born weighing over 9lb 13oz). There are medical reasons for larger than average babies, e.g women who develop gestational diabetes are much more likely to give birth to a bigger baby, but in many cases there are no risk factors.

Husband helping wife through labor painBabies often get bigger the more children you have, however it is actually incredibly hard to accurately predict a newborn’s weight whilst the mother is still pregnant, particularly by ultrasound growth scans which can be out by up to a pound and a half.

In fact, scientific research has found that perhaps the most accurate estimate of predicting a baby’s birth weight is to ask the mother what her instincts tell her. It’s not uncommon for expectant mothers to be told they are expecting a 10 pounder and then pop out a perfectly average sized 7 pound baby, but if you ask the mum she’ll likely say “I knew he wasn’t as big as they all said he would be”.

When it comes to giving birth to a large baby society seems to think that it is always difficult, painful and potentially dangerous, but actually many midwives believe that the best way to give birth to a large baby is to be as ‘hands off’ as possible, letting nature take its course and allowing labouring mothers to move around freely and adopt positions such as squatting and being on fours which increases the size of the pelvic outlet, helping the baby to birth easily.

As midwife Lorraine Berry says:

“…babies of average size can present some difficulty in labour just as much as babies of a larger size. In the absence of diabetes, it is more the match between mum’s pelvis and her own baby that is important and the ability to move freely, according to her bodies signals. Being free to adopt upright, forward leaning poses and keeping mobile will help the mother to help her baby negotiate the path through her pelvis. The pelvis is not a fixed ring of bone – it is has articulations, ligaments and joints that can move and stretch. Keeping relaxed, calm can help her pelvis be more mobile and to open more, under the influence of her birthing hormones. Similarly, keeping relaxed, and a birthing environment which maximises production of birthing hormones, can allow the perineum to stretch, open and ease over the baby’s head more easily and without tearing. The fact a baby is felt to be well grown is not necessarily a cause for concern. It is worth noting, but does not mean there will definitely be a problem.”

So, if you are reading this currently pregnant and fearful of birthing a whopper please don’t panic, birthing big babies is not necessarily the horror story you are led to believe!

by Sarah Ockwell-Smith

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