Why Do We Fear Big Babies?

What would you class as a ‘big’ baby? Is there a size that makes you wince a little bit? As an antenatal teacher, and baby signing class teacher, I’ve heard so many discussions about giving birth to ‘big babies’. I’ve heard parents describe their 8lb baby as a ‘whopper’.

This is an increasingly common issue: so many families I’ve supported have been told in their third trimester that baby is ‘too big’ (or sometimes ‘too small’, but that’s a whole other blog post).

The medical profession gives the term macrosomia to a baby who weighs 8lb 13oz or more. But honestly… I’ve had so many families give birth to far bigger babies than this… without issue!

 

We Can Birth Big Babies!

 

I suppose it’s natural to worry about a big baby when you’re going to give birth to them out of a relatively small opening. But guess what? Your body is so cleverly designed to open for your baby!

I know of many, many women who’ve given birth to 10lb + babies. The highest birthweight of a family with whom I’ve worked is 10lb 4oz – physiological vaginal birth, NO TEARING! Many of my birthworker colleagues have supported families who’ve birthed bigger babies than this.

The medical profession is nervous of big babies however. They will recommend induction (chemically starting labour) to get baby out early. We know that trying to get baby out before they’re ready can lead to further interventions and trauma for mum and baby, so it needs carefully consideration.

 

What You Need To Know About Big Babies

 

A few things I really want to share with you about ‘big babies’:

  1. Nobody can tell you the exact weight of your baby until they are born! Growth scans in the third trimester are notoriously inaccurate – they can be out 2lbs either way.

 

  1. One of the concerns with having a ‘big’ baby is the (low) risk of shoulder dystocia. This is where baby’s shoulders need a little help getting out. All midwives are highly trained in resolving this. However, what’s not always shared is that shoulder dystocia can occur with ANY weight/size of baby. Something else that’s not shared is that induction seems to make shoulder dystocia slightly more likely…

 

  1. Your position during birth (avoiding being on your back), controlled breathing as baby moves down the birth canal, and being relaxed and calm will all help to birth a big baby.

 

  1. What was your birth weight? And what is your build? How do you feel about giving birth to a ‘big’ baby? For example, if you’re a size 6, 5ft and from a family of smaller babies, how you feel about giving birth to a larger baby may be different from someone who’s of a bigger build (sidenote here – I have known very petite people give birth to bigger babies).

 

  1. Occasionally a condition called Gestational Diabetes can contribute to a baby being of larger than gestational average. HOWEVER, this condition is being increasingly diagnosed with lower margins, and very little nuanced discussion is had with families about their choices.

 

Giving Birth To A Big Baby: What Next?

If you are told you’re expecting a ‘big baby’, the first thing I recommend you do is contact your wonderful hypnobirthing teacher! You can chat through how you’re feeling and your options with them. They will also signpost you to evidence-based information (unfortunately you are unlikely to receive this from your healthcare provider).

 

If you don’t have a wonderful hypnobirthing teacher, then I recommend checking out Sara Wickham’s resources, and also contacting AIMS.

 

How I Can Support You

 

Support during pregnancy helps for a calmer, more relaxed birth (whatever path it takes). Learning about what to expect during birth and navigating your options in maternity care will mean you and your birth partner are more confident and empowered for meeting your baby.

 

I’d love to support you prepare for the birth of your baby. You can either contact me, or find more information on my classes page.

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