Friday, March 13, 2009

The "Big" Baby

Contrary to everything you may have been told, a big baby is a good thing!  Women have become afraid of giving birth to a big baby because their doctors, and even some midwives, have instilled fear into these mothers.  When a woman hears the phrase "birth trauma," do you think she's excited to start labor and give birth?  Of course not.  A woman's body is less likely to start labor when she is fearful.

How does your doctor know the size of you baby?  Ultrasound?  While ultrasound can be a useful device in estimating a number of things, when it comes to the size of the baby, it can be off by more than 2 pounds, either way!  So if you have a doctor telling you that you are carrying a 10-pound baby and a C-section is the way to go, you likely are NOT really having a baby that big.  Do not allow a doctor to conveniently (for him/her) cut you open because he/she is afraid of your "big" baby. They do not trust your body to give birth if they are recommending a C-section.  I have a lot of confidence in a woman's body being able to give to birth to the baby that her body allowed her to grow.

And what if you are carrying a 10-pound baby?  Congratulations!  My dad was 10 pounds, born at home.  So was his brother.  My grandma, who I lovingly call a "hillbilly," lived on the land. She ate the food she grew.  She knew where her food came from.  And she grew healthy, big babies.  

Most women are afraid to birth a big baby because they are afraid they will tear at the time of birth.  You are actually more likely to tear with a smaller baby than a bigger one.  How can this be?  A small baby tends to come through the birth canal faster and the skin, or perineum, doesn't have as much time to stretch.  A bigger baby allows the skin more time to stretch over the baby's head.  I've seen women be fearful of a bigger baby, because, surely if they tore with a 6-pound baby, an 8-pound baby would be dreadful.  Just the opposite is true.  

I have a lot more to say on the subject of tearing, episiotomies, etc., but I'll reserve that information for those lucky enough to take my class!  Wink, wink

I would also like to point out a very important statistic:  The #3 reason for a C-section in America is for CPD, or cephalopelvic disproportion, but only 1/2500 women actually has this very rare condition.  This is when a doctor says that your baby is too big to fit through your pelvis.  The only way for a doctor to truly diagnose this condition is when a woman is in labor and has spent a considerable amount of time pushing or has had an X-ray.  No one is going to do an X-ray on a pregnant woman, let alone in labor!  

We all know the tiniest women who have birthed 9 and 10-pound babies.  You cannot tell by looking at woman's hips whether or not her baby will fit through them.  During labor, there are hormones released to help soften the cartilidge within the pelvis.  It shifts with the baby, allowing more room for him or her to pass through.  The baby's head will also mold to fit through. Understanding the process of birth instills confidence in this natural process of the baby passing through the pelvis.  

True CPD was more common in the 19th century when a lot of women had suffered from rickets, causing the pelvis to be misshapen. Very rarely does a mismatch occur with the baby's size and the mother's pelvis, but there is no way for a doctor to prove it, so it is used as a diagnosis very often, even in pregnancy when a woman has never even experienced labor!  Give me a break!

Let's talk about that "birth trauma" we hear so much about.  Specifically, shoulder dystocia, is seen more often with bigger babies, but certainly not as common as the doctors make it sound. This is when the head is born, but the shoulders are "stuck."  Honestly, the baby doesn't have to be huge for this to happen -- just to have really wide shoulders.   A doctor will usually deal with this by giving the mom an episiotomy and then by breaking the baby's collarbone.  Ina Mae Gaskin, who I consider to be the nation's leading midwife, has a different approach, called The Gaskin Manuever:  have the mom get on all fours and lift a leg.  This will release the baby's shoulders. I have done this with one of our births.  It's amazing.  

Briefly, let's contemplate what is believed to be a "big baby."  What do you believe to be a big baby?  If 7 1/2 pounds is average, does that mean anything over that is "big."  I don't believe so. I do not consider a baby in the 8 pound range to be "big" -- just healthy.  We want this!  I, personally, think that once a baby is over 9 pounds, they are "bigger."  I love asking moms that have "big" babies if they tore, and I am constantly amazed by the amount of moms that say no, or very little.  

I had a mom in my class a few years ago that gave birth to a 12-pound baby with a 1st degree tear.   She gave birth in a hospital with a midwife.  Her family and friends couldn't believe that no one knew the baby was going to be so big.  They insisted that if she'd had a doctor instead of a midwife, they would have known.  I made the point that if she'd had a doctor who was expecting a 12-pound baby, she would have had a scheduled C-section and not the wonderful birth experience that she did.  


 

19 comments:

Nancy said...

Yea for big, healthy, fully-cooked babies!!!

April said...

I have had some degree of tearing with all 4 of my children. By far, my worst tearing came from my tiny 5lb 12oz baby boy! He came SO fast! We actually heard a "pop" when his head came out.
I tore the least with my 4th and largest, 8lb. 6oz, baby.

Sarah said...

My daughter was 8 pounds (not necessarily all that big), but I remember my doctor telling me beforehand that at BEST she'd be 5 pounds. But I just *knew* she was wrong. So when Julia came out at 8 pounds I wasn't shocked in the least, but really happy for her to be so "big" and healthy.

And the best part - I barely tore. No stitches required. :)

Lori A. said...

My doctor was pretty close guessing my daughter (first baby) would be 8lbs, 12 oz. She was 8lbs, 5oz. I had pretty good tearing with her and stitches. Lots of discomfort and pain from that.
My son, born about 6 years later was guessed to be 7lbs, 2oz by the on-call doctor (mine was out of town) feeling around my stomach. I went into labor the next day and had my 10lb, 5oz son. :) I think I might have had a little tearing with him but I remember I wasn't in near as much pain from that as I was with my daughter. I don't think I had stitches with him.
My daughter's allergist (yea, what does he know?!) commented on how big my son was (he was just learning to stand at the time) and told me I had better be careful because he was going to be obese. I told him he was big when he was born and he said it didn't matter and I really better be careful. I felt so awful when I left there and never went back. We were there for my daughter's allergies, not his off-the-cuff opinion of my baby.
My son is 5 1/2 years old now and very healthy and NOT anywhere near fat.

Sefatia said...

Thank you for this post. My doctor told me my baby girl is going to be "big." I am 32 weeks along, she is measuring 35 weeks. I am 5'4" and because they think she will be nine pounds they want me to get ready for a c-section. I want a totally natural vaginal birth. You have given me back my resolve, and trust in my own body. Again, thanks!

Anonymous said...

just cruising through and just had to give............

Another Kudos for Bigger Babies!

I've been blessed to co-create 4 boys and 4 girls into life.

My "runt" was 9lb 4oz. My largest 13lb 25" long! The rest 10 - 11lb-ers. And yes, at home. Safely - more safely (wink). Thank you Barbara Pepper, CNM

Keep up the good work for all new mothers and new lives.

betsy

Donna Ryan said...

Barbara Pepper was my midwife with baby number 4! I believe she is a LM (Licensed Midwife), not a CNM. It may not be the same woman though. Was this in Albuquerque? Barb is simply the best midwife! Thanks for your comment Betsy. Love those big babies!!!

Nikki said...

This completely makes sense to me. I delivered 10 weeks early and my son was only 3 pounds. I tore quite a bit. According to my husband, the baby practically shot out of me. Until I read this, I've been mortified about how much pain a 'normal' sized baby will be, but now I feel much better! :)

MermaidLilli said...

I was X-rayed with my first baby to make sure my pelvis was large enough to birth that 6lb 6oz girl.
Now I help moms deliver their 10+lb babies.

Joni said...

I've had four babies. Two "big" by medical standards. My last baby girl was born at home, in water and weighed 10 lbs 6 oz. Yes, she is a "big" baby. We had a shoulder dystocia and we ended up using the Gaskin maneuver and it was effective with the help of an outstanding midwife. I knew we were going to have a dystocia as soon as her hard was born and though we had s rough delivery and she was a little slow to start I am very glad we chose to have her at home. I had only a minor tear and a very easy recovery. You can read her birth story here: http://joni-ishouldwriteabook.blogspot.com/2010/10/ellas-story-part-2-so-it-beings.html

I'm a registered nurse and worked L&D for many years. CPD is the most commonly sited reason for c-section at my hospital probably next in neck with failure to progress (true first place belongs to repeat c-sections of course). I left the hospital because the ignorance and intervention was a source of constant frustration.

Joni said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeanette said...

Amen to big babies! I had complications with both my sons (not due to size) and I'm so greatful for their "robustness" (10.5 pounds and 9.5 pounds) as I feel that really helped them to not have any further problems. Of course, they were both so eager to nurse ;)

Kelly said...

I had a 12 lb, 3 oz baby at home...no stitches needed! I also had a 10-6, and a 9-2. I love my big babies!

Teegs said...

YAY!! Gotta love the big babies. It is so great to hear someone speak so enthusiastically about 'big' babies. My first son was 8pd 6oz, 7hr labour from show to birth and i had an episiotomy right at the end as i wasn't tearing and required only a few stictches. My 'big' boy was so healthy and always has been!
My second son, born Aug 2010, was an even faster labour at 18minutes from waters breaking to birth (almost born with waters intact). He had shoulder dystocia, and we used the all fours with one leg up to maneouvere him out. So much better for us both than them ripping him out :D I did not tear at all with him. To our surprise he weighed in at a few grams shy of 10pd :D :D. his weight was too his advantage when he spent 2 months in hospital from 22days old and lost weight. He was my easier (more painful, but easier) labour of the two. And both drug free :D

Helen said...

When my DD was working in a free standing birthing clinic on the Texas/Mexico border, she saw many very short Mexican ladies witth tall, broad-shouldered husbands, come into the clinic in labor, work their way to transition, have a 10 minute pushing phase (and this was usually lying down on their backs!), pop out those babies, and go home. No one risked them out because they were short.

In my own experience I had a slight tear birthing a nine pounder with shoulder dystocia, and an episiotomy with a different doc for next baby, who weighed in at 7 1/2 pounds. The first doc was too busy getting the baby unstuck to do an episiotomy, and his partner did them routinely, so go figure.

Kate said...

I just wanted to encourage Sefatia to not let the dr.s discourage her. I am only 2" taller than you are. My last baby measured 3-4 weeks larger every time. She was 8 days late and came out weighing 10# 6oz. My other 7 children were (lightest to heaviest) 8#, 9#, 9# 8oz, 10# 5oz, 10# 12 oz, 11# 2oz and 11# 4oz. Don't let the dr.s scare you, you have the ability to do a lot.

AnnElizabethLara said...

LOVE THIS POST! I had a 10 lb 2 oz baby with a tiny tiny tear, not enough for stitches! Makes me sad so many American woman give away their power of birth to a doctor because they "know best"...

Joe and Erica said...

My DS was 8lbs 4oz born the day AFTER his EDD. But I made the mistake of going to the hospital while still in early labor (I didn't truly no better, he is my first). I did ALL my research etc, but there was no way I could convince my DH to allow me to home birth like I wanted to do. I have a rare migraine condition and was on a high level of my meds our entire pregnancy. HE was scared if I went into active labor at home and started having a migraine that turned into a seizure (which I've NEVER had) he was afraid of losing me and or the baby as well. To calm my DH's fears I agreed to have a hospital birth. But NEVER AGAIN! Our DS was a pretty good sized baby, but I feel like I could have stayed in early labor for another week or two and would have been just fine with a "bigger" baby. I am only 5'1", but I'd been kicked in the ribs for the last 3 months, would another week or two be so rough? Not really.

Anyone know of an AMAZING Midwife in the Southern California area? I'm only 2mos pp, but would like to find someone I can trust now. So when the time comes for baby #2, I will know I have someone I can turn to.

AnnElizabethLara said...

Joe and Erica- Check out Aquanatal birth center in Chino Hills. Lynn and Joyce are amazing! I had my daughter there and would recommend them to anyone look for a no intervention natural birth experience. Let them know I sent you!E-mail me if you want more info, annelizabethlara at yahoo.com