Your Baby is TOO Big!

Thing 1 was 4 pounds 3 ounces (born 6 weeks early, via emergency cesarean.)

I had set a goal to double Thing 1’s weight with Thing 2, so I was thinking he would be 8 pound 6 ounces.  I guess I am an overachiever, because he weighed 9 pound 4 ounce.  I birthed him vaginally without any problems.

My OB said to me, “If I had known he was going to be this big, I wouldn’t have let you had a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean).”

I said, “Thank goodness you didn’t know!”

How wrong would it be if my OB had discouraged my attempt at a vaginal birth because of her fear of big babies?

Mad about the Big Baby Bull!

9 years later I am a childbirth educator and doula who is saddened/angered by the “big baby bull” care providers feed to their patients every day.

Some start it even as early as the 20 week ultrasound, with little remarks like,  “This baby is a pretty good size.”

Now many moms are getting a routine late term ultrasound, which leads to many babies who are suspected to be big

why do I say “suspected”?

Let’s be honest, the only way to KNOW how big a baby is,

  • is to weigh him after he is born!
  • Ultrasounds are notoriously wrong – up to 2 pounds either way of the “estimate”.

Using Scare Tactics to Sell Agenda

Care providers then use that “suspected big baby” to sell their agenda. Whether it be a cesarean or an induction.  This fear of big babies is causing a lot of interventions to happen to low risk moms.

I attended a birth of a mom was induced at 38 weeks because her baby was “going to be at least 8.5 pounds”.

Some simple facts:

  • this mom had vaginally birthed a 8.5 pound baby easily a few years before.
  • ACOG defines macrosomia as bigger than 8 pounds 13 ounces, so technically – 8.5 pounds is NOT big!
  • the baby was 7 pounds.
  • The OB commented after “All baby’s should be small, much less trauma to the mom.”
  • Did I forget to mention, the OB was heading out of town the next day?

Suspected Big Baby is such a recurring theme

I hear about it from pregnant moms so much, I have created a whole page about it. 

Big Baby Bull Page.  Visit there for tons of information about suspected big babies.

I recently added these links.

Why are care providers afraid?

Shoulder Dystocia is their main fear.

Well here is a great post about Can Shoulder Dystocia be predicted by size of baby?

In it she quotes ACOGs statement regarding shoulder dystocia.

1.   Most cases of shoulder dystocia cannot be predicted or prevented because there are no accurate methods to identify which fetuses will develop this complication.

2.  Ultrasonic measurement to estimate macrosomia has limited accuracy

3.  Planned cesarean section based on suspected macrosomia is not a reasonable strategy

In Birth Sense’s follow up post she asks the question:

Is it possible to prevent shoulder dystocia?

The Brachial Plexus Injury Prevention Program (BPIPP) has made a strong statement about prevention of shoulder dystocia.

According to BPIPP, the singular action that obstetric providers could take to prevent shoulder dystocia is to

  • keep the mother off her back during delivery.

They also list three additional factors that can increase risk of shoulder dystocia and brachial plexus injury:

  • Epidural anesthesia for vaginal birth
  • “Tools” such as vacuum or forceps used to aid delivery
  • Labor Induction

The scary thing is, care providers actively RECOMMEND and support many interventions that LEAD to shoulder dystocia.

So maybe we should just do cesareans for all suspected big babies?

Do all OBs think suspected big baby, should be handled with cesareans and inductions?  Jill at the Unneccesarean shares a great article from Contemporary OB/GYN discussing how macrosomia is not a good indication of doing a cesarean.

Cesareans have risks as well.  Is it right to scare a mom with a possible risk to known risks?

Remember there is NO way to know how big your baby will be.   I know a few moms who have had cesareans for suspected big baby and have had small babies.  A major surgery for NO GOOD REASON!!!!

Some moms worry a big baby may cause tearing.

But this is not necessarily related!

Here is a great birth story including amazing pictures (graphic) of a mom who birthed her 11 pound 5 ounce baby vaginally with no tears!!!

There are many, many stories like this.

To recap:

  • There is no way to know how big a baby is until after he is born!
  • Suspected Big Baby does not predict shoulder dystocia.
  • Inducing will not prevent this potential problem and may even lead to it!
  • Having an elective cesarean is not the ideal answer.
  • Your body will grow the perfect size baby for you!
  • Make choices based on information and intuition instead of fear!

What do YOU think?

  • If you are a doula, CBE or nurse, have you noticed a trend of “big baby bull”?
  • If you are a mom, have you had any experience with this?
  • Do you think it is OK for a care provider to force a cesarean or induction because of a big baby?
  • Please share your experiences!
  • Edited to add a great big baby story just posted on Unnecesarean

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(this is not meant as medical advice, this is to remind moms everywhere that you have rights…. choose to use them!  Trust your body!  Choose care givers who trust your body!  Make educated decisions.  Care providers give you information… you have to decipher it and choose how to use it, ask questions, get answers you are satisfied with, if you aren’t satisfied remember it is never to late to change to a new care provider or you can choose to just say NO!.)

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16 thoughts on “Your Baby is TOO Big!”

  1. First baby was 10lbs 1oz, hospital birth with pitocin and epidural. Episiotomy w/4th degree tear and slight shoulder dystocia. Second baby 12 lbs 6.5 oz at a stand alone birth center birthed on a birthing stool at 41 weeks. Only 1st degree tear and no shoulder dystocia. I’m so glad I had wonderful midwives who were not worried about me having a big baby and trusting my body to do it naturally!

  2. Thank you for sharing your story. I think you make a great point, you got to try! That is empowering, you know you did all you could do!
    Great job!

  3. Hi! Stopping by from SITS Blog Frog!
    This is crazy! You are right, ultrasounds are not always right! I was supposed to have a baby between 7-8 pounds. Maddy ended up being 9 pounds 4 ounces! I don’t think my doctor would have scared me into a c-section even if he knew though. He’s pretty laid back, letting the mom decide what she wants to do. I’m glad I got to try even though after over 2 hours of pushing, she just wasn’t coming. I ended up HAVING (and I stress having) to get a c-section. I can’t imagine why anyone would want to opt for this over a vaginal birth! It was a MUCH harder recovery!
    I don’t think it’s ok for a doctor or nurse to scare a mom into having a c-section because her baby “might” be big. For me, I’m glad I at least got to try!
    Great post! Really gets people thinking!

  4. Ha! I’m getting some of this now. I’ve had additional ultrasounds because my little guy is stubborn and wouldn’t show his heart. It being his heart and all, with some conditions requiring immediate care, I went along with them. He’s consistently measured a week big for awhile now.

    I’m not that worried about it, but my OB’s nurse made some stupid comment about maybe doc would induce me for the big baby. My OB has said no such thing, but she knows I want a non-medicated birth and she keeps going on about not wanting a 9lb baby without an epidural.

    My mom delivered a baby over 10 lbs with no medication, I can do it too.

  5. Why would it matter if you had an epidural or not? That is so silly. I have actually had moms who said that their bigger babies were more comfortable to birth, because fat smushes!
    Have a great birth!

  6. I’ve had multiple friends who were given a size estimate that was drastically wrong by ultrasound. I was shocked when my midwife told me that the margin of error is 2 lbs! That’s 1/4 to 1/3 of the baby’s weight! What is the point? I also learned through reading different things and talking to other people that size doesn’t necessarily matter at all, it’s more about how your body is built. It’s perfectly possible for a small woman to deliver a baby with no problem, just as it’s possible for a larger woman to have trouble delivering a small baby if things are shaped funny.

  7. Pingback: Last Post at this blog – Come to the New Enjoy Birth Blog! « Enjoy Birth's Old Blog :)

  8. My son was 10 lbs, 4 oz and born vaginally…I am 5’4″ by the way. They tried to convince me that he was too big. I decided that the risks of him getting stuck were about equal to the c-section risks and am very glad I decided to try to birth him without the c-section.

  9. My babe wasn’t big… just big-ish (8.5) and I think it’s crazy that a doc would push for a c-section just for a big baby (unless it was a supersize baby with a tiny mom… but really, that’s not likely most of the time is it?). I do, however REALLY wish I could have gotten a late term ultra sound so we could have discovered that my bub was breech. My midwife missed it (and so did 4 others who also checked me) and we didn’t discover until already 12 hours into labor. How I would have loved to have known sooner and tried to get the baby turned!! My hospital didn’t have any doctors that would deliver breech babies vaginally, so off to the operating room we went. It all worked out fine, but what I wouldn’t have given for that late-term ultrasound…..

  10. Did you have any feelings that the baby was maybe breech? I ask because I had 2 doula clients with surprise breech babies in 1 week and both had felt the baby was breech, but the OB blew them off and didn’t do an ultrasound.

    So I definitely suggest requesting and insisting upon a late term ultrasound if a mom thinks her baby is breech!

    Thanks for sharing your experience and I am sorry that you needed a cesarean.

  11. Yes! *applause* Babies are like goldfish and will only grow to fit the bowl. Like you, I’m so tired of seeing women undermined with this bs. I’ll be sharing this, so thanks!

  12. Hello! I am a first-timer and my Dr. told me that I needed to stop eatting so much because I am going to grow a big baby. At the beginning I weighed 125 and now I weigh 148. I am a small girl, but that was ridiculous for her to say…eh?

  13. I know this is very old but I thought I would add my experience.

    I labored for two full days with my daughter. She wouldn’t descend even though I was fully dilated. I asked for a c-section. We hadn’t had a late ultrasound and had no reason to believe she was unnaturally large. Her birth weight was 13 lb 8 oz.

    With my son, I did everything differently. Stayed super active, ate better, gained half as much weight. At 38 weeks, the u/s tech estimated him at 14 lbs. After crying and agonizing, I scheduled a second c-section. I didn’t want to attempt a VBAC with a baby that size, with no guarantee if my doctor would be there. His birth weight: 13 lb 8 oz. Same size as my daughter to the ounce.

    All I got from the natural birth “community” was blowback and platitudes like this. I’m sure vaginal births of babies that size are possible but it’s certainly not common and to minimize it is crap. Everyone acted like I was a victim – I wasn’t. I made the call. I had no interest in going through all that again just to satisfy people who wouldn’t support my choice because they were adamant that they’d choose differently and they knew what was best for me.

    It’s easy to say what you’d do when you’ve never faced the situation. An 11 pound baby is NOT the same as a 13 or 14 pound one. I lost all respect for the natural birth at all costs crowd after my son’s birth. You want women to have choices, well then, respect them.

  14. This is a wonderful point!

    You want women to have choices, well then, respect them.

    YES! I am glad that you made an informed choice and feel good about it. I think that you made the best choice for you and your baby. I am sorry that you feel unsupported by some in the birth community. I personally feel like everyone should get unbiased information and then make whatever choice is right for them. For some that is a home birth, for some that is a cesarean. Both can be right and positive with the right support.

    So good for you for making your choice and also thanks for sharing your experience.

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