In my experience, many pregnant people FEAR THE BIG BABY! I myself fell prey to this when pregnant with my first child. I went to an OB visit that happened to be on my due date. My doctor said to me, "Are you ready to get this over with? Because I think he's getting kind of big." In my mind, there was nothing scarier than THE BIG BABY! I didn't want THE BIG BABY! I had read in "What to Expect When You're Expecting" (or as I refer to it, "What to Expect When You're Paranoid"), that doctors don't induce unless it's medically necessary. At that time I figured if it came from my doctor's mouth, that meant it was medically necessary. And because I was afraid of THE BIG BABY, I agreed.
What can we keep in mind about THE BIG BABY?
1. Many professionals agree it is more about the position of a baby rather than the size of a baby. Babies who are face-up (posterior) can make labor longer and harder. For more about this, check out the Spinning Babies website.
2. Ultrasounds measure the length of bones, not the squish of fat. You can't tell from bone length how much your baby will weigh. There are actually different formulas for measuring and each formula produces a different estimated weight -- do you know what your doctor is using?
3. Ultrasounds have about a 15% margin of error. This could be a pound and a half either way. That pound and a half number also changes the smaller your baby is. For example, if you were told your baby would be 9 and a half pounds and your baby was 8 pounds, that's about a 16% margin or error. If you were told your baby would be 8 pounds and your baby was 6 pounds, that's a 25% margin or error.
4. The size of a baby does not tell us if the baby's lungs and other systems are mature enough to be up and running on their own. It's actually the baby who decides when to be born by releasing a hormone the placenta responds to, and then triggering labor. Read Kim James' "Close to Due Date" for the breakdown on how all of this works.
5. My experience as a doula and childbirth educator tells me most women are afraid of having THE BIG BABY! This fear is often used by professionals to get us to agree to be induced, even though this is not recommended. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists states inducing for a "suspected" large baby is not evidence-based. "In cases of term patients with suspected fetal macrosomia, current evidence does not support early induction of labor. Results from recent reports indicate that induction of labor at least doubles the risk of cesarean delivery without reducing the risk of shoulder dystocia or newborn morbidity."
My first baby was induced. And he wasn't small -- he weighed 9 pounds, 8 ounces. But was he more than my body could handle? With my next baby I passed over an OB for a Certified Nurse Midwife. I remember wanting desperately to go into labor on my own, but I was also petrified of having THE BIG BABY MARK-II. In a conversation with my midwife at around 38 weeks, I said to her, "You know, if I go over my due date, I'm just going to stop eating." She looked at me wisely and replied: "His HEAD is not getting any bigger. He's just putting on fat. And fat is very squishy."
Wow. As that sank in, I had an amazing realization that more often than not, our bodies know what they're doing. My second baby kick-started an 8-hour labor at 41 weeks and 2 days. Not only did he weigh 9 pounds, 9 ounces, he came out fully face-up and with his head tilted to the side (posterior and asynclitic). Granted my doctor was right about THE BIG BABY, and then THE BIG BABY MARK II came along next. But baby three (8 pounds, 4 ounces) and baby four (8 pounds, 1 ounce) proved I could have smaller babies. Either way, there's no need to fear THE BIG BABY.
♥ four young boys and a boy dog (offspring)