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All You Need to Know About Having a “Big” Baby

Regardless of how many children you have had, expecting mothers’ minds are often filled with pressing questions. Will my baby sleep through the night? Will they have difficulty nursing? How big will my baby be? Most of these questions won’t be answered until after the baby’s born. For now, I am going to tackle everything you need to know about having a “big” baby.

Should I be concerned about having a big baby?

What is a “Big” Baby?

The official term for a “big” baby, or macrosomia, is defined as any baby weighing more than 4500 grams. Another term you may hear is “large for gestational age” (LGA). This refers to a fetus that is one greater than the 90th percentile for gestational age.

Estimating the weight of your baby before birth is not an exact science. If your belly is larger than average at a particular gestational age, you may want to ask your care provider to perform an ultrasound to determine the fetal size. Ultrasound measurements can be off by as much as 10%, but, if there are no technical issues regarding the measurement, ultrasounds are fairly accurate.

Birth order actually plays a role in the size of your baby.

Signs that I Might Have a “Big” Baby?

Pregnancy Weight Gain

Depending on your weight prior to pregnancy, doctors recommend gaining no more than 35 pounds during your pregnancy. If you are considered medically obese, doctors suggest gaining no more than 20 pounds. Gaining more than these recommendations could lead to a larger than average baby at birth.

Your Pregnancy History and Birth Order

Genetic history is obviously intrinsic to your baby’s development. Take a peek into your history as a baby and a mother to help you with what to expect.

 Studies show that birth order actually plays a role in the size of your baby. Babies after your first born tend to be bigger than the first.

 If you have had bigger babies in the past, you can probably expect your next baby to be big as well.

 Several studies have found that a mother’s weight at the time of their own birth is a good indicator of their baby’s weight.

 Even your age at the time of conception can be an indicator of the baby’s size. If you were 17 or younger at the time of conception, you are more likely to have a bigger baby.

Gestational Diabetes

Gestational Diabetes is a form of diabetes that develops during pregnancy, causing the amount of glucose in your body to spike. That glucose makes its way to the baby which significantly raises the chances of becoming bigger than average. You can help control it by eating healthy foods, exercising and taking safe medications approved by your obstetrician.

Blood sugar levels typically go back to normal soon after delivery. If you have had gestational diabetes, you too are at risk for type two diabetes so work with your doctor to manage your blood sugar during and after pregnancy.

Will I Need a C-Section?

Not necessarily. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, patients are recommended to have a cesarean delivery for any babies that are bigger than 9 lbs. 15 ounces for diabetic women and 11 lbs. for non-diabetics. However, macrosomia does not necessarily mean a C-section is likely.

Is The Delivery Going to be More Difficult?

Macrosomia after 39 weeks is typically an indication that you will want to induce labor and deliver the baby. However, that doesn’t mean that the labor will be particularly difficult.

Baby size isn’t a direct indicator that you will have a harder delivery. A successful vaginal delivery depends more on the baby’s position as it travels out of the birth canal and the size of the mother’s pelvic inlet.

One concern is shoulder dystocia, a condition where the baby’s shoulders get wedged against the woman’s pelvis causing oxygen deprivation and other complications. However, dystocia can be seen in babies of all sizes so direct correlations to macrosomia are not necessarily reliable.

Should I Be Concerned?

Not at all.

Macrosomia and LGA are common. If you believe that your baby may be larger than average, consult with your obstetrician. Your care provider will investigate and build out a plan to account for macrosomia or other potential issues with your pregnancy.

Christopher K. Quinsey MD, P.A. has been serving the northern Orlando area for over 21 years. If you are interested in a consultation today, contact us.

*This blog is for general informational purposes only. Christopher K. Quinsey MD, P.A. does not distribute medical advice through this blog. As such, this blog does not constitute a patient-client relationship between the reader and Christopher K. Quinsey MD, P.A.

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