It isn’t unusual for women to worry about the possibility of birth-related complications as they near the date of delivery. Out of many, there is a common fear associated with the size of the baby. A baby’s weight or size cannot be accurately predicted when it is in the womb. Women still feel paranoid about having a big baby, causing a painful labor, and an intervention in birth. The medical term used for a big baby is fetal macrosomia. Countries around the world follow slightly different standards for considering a baby macrosomic. Some professionals have defined macrosomic weight range as 4 kilograms(8lb 13oz) or more. In few countries, they have standardized it as 4.5 kilograms (9lb 15oz) or more. Larger babies may cause complications at birth, but many assumptions associated with a heavier baby may not actually be true.
Here are 5 things related to birthing big babies that you shouldn’t believe.
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1. A Baby Can Be Accurately Diagnosed With Macrosomia Before Birth
Studies say that the only way to diagnose macrosomia is after birth.1 Methods like an ultrasound scan can track the size of the fetus during early development, but its accuracy decreases as the pregnancy progresses. A baby’s birth weight may differ by 10-15% when compared with the estimates made in the third trimester. Another method called Leopard’s maneuvers, known to determine the weight and position of a baby, provides only a rough estimate of the fetal weight.
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2. If The Mother Has Gestational Diabetes, She Will Definitely Have A Big Baby
On an average, there are 1 in 10 chances of having a macrosomic baby. For women with gestational diabetes, there are 13.6% chances of having a baby weighing more than 4 kilograms. According to a study, women who treat their gestational diabetes can considerably reduce the risk of having a macrosomic baby by a huge margin—at least 50%2. Gestational diabetes that goes untreated is riskier for mothers as compared to those who make efforts to stay active and control their sugar levels.
That being said, mothers already having type 1 or type 2 diabetes have an increased risk of having a larger baby. The pregnancy needs to be constantly monitored in such cases.
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3. High Body Mass Index(BMI) Means Birthing A Larger Baby
Women who are overweight or obese are at a higher risk of having a big baby. The truth being told, it is important to know that this does not guarantee a macrosomic baby. Many mothers have had babies weighing less than 4 kilograms without considering their BMIs. High BMI can trigger obesity, gestational diabetes, pregnancy-induced hypertension—consequentially leading to a larger baby. Exercising and eating healthy food can reduce these risks, including having a macrosomic baby.
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4. A Macrosomic Baby Puts A Mother At Birth Risk
Cephalopelvic disproportion (CPD) is a condition wherein the baby’s head is too large for the mother’s pelvis, and cannot pass through. Most women have a fear of developing this condition. It is a known fact that a large baby doesn’t mean a larger head or a larger body, incapable of passing through the pelvis—unless the mother has congenital anomalies or pelvic fractures. Likewise, having a large baby doesn’t possibly result in birth complications like shoulder dystocia.
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5. A Big Baby Means Women Will Need Induced Labor And C-Section
Women who feel natural deliveries are a far cry if they are expecting a big baby must reconsider. First, there is no way to anticipate accurate baby weight or size before birth. Many women have had vaginal births without any birth complications. Second, there is no evidence that provides a link between having a big baby and scheduling labor induction. There exist risks associated with a big baby and so is the case with caesarean and induced labor.
A study came out with an interesting result—mothers who were expecting macrosomic babies had higher rates of complications as compared to those who unexpectedly had larger babies3. Every birth is different. Some conditions are under our control while few other may be completely unpredictable. It is best not to develop an opinion about anything related to your pregnancy without clarifying it with your doctor.