Fetal Macrosomia: 6 Things You Need to Know About Giving Birth to a Big Baby
So you left work early just to sit and wait for 40 minutes for your prenatal appointment with your OB; now you’re hungry. You’re looking forward to hearing your baby’s heatbeat on the Doppler, but you really wish that you were at home on the couch with your feet up, watching last night’s episode of “This is Us”.
You finally get up onto your doctor’s cold exam table covered in crinkled, white paper and lift your top up and tuck your pants down; she whips out her tape measure and starts feeling around. First at the top of your tummy and then down near your pubic bone. After reading her tape measure she announces:
You’re measuring large for your dates.
Oh shiiiiit. What does that mean, exactly? Is this a problem?
So you ask her WTF it means and she tells you that she suspects that your baby is going to be a big one.
Surely if you’re having a big baby that means you’re having a c-section, right? Nobody expects your to push a big baby out of that hole.
Your doctor may not seem too concerned about it because she knows what your body is capable of. But you? You’re kinda freaking out because- let’s face it- you’ve never pushed a big, tiny human out before. And even though you dreamed of having a vaginal birth, you’re not so sure about it anymore.
Here’s the good news:
There’s a really good chance that you’re going to be able to have that vaginal birth afterall.
Fetal Macrosomia is the fancy, medical term for a big baby.
The Mayo Clinic defines Fetal Macrosomia like this:
The term "fetal macrosomia" is used to describe a newborn who's significantly larger than average. A baby diagnosed with fetal macrosomia has a birth weight of more than 8 pounds, 13 ounces (4,000 grams), regardless of his or her gestational age.
If you think about it, don’t you know at least one woman who gave birth to a baby over 9 pounds? Personally, I’ve had four of them and two of those were unmedicated, vaginal births!
So, Mama, if you’re looking for a little big baby inspo I’ve got you covered! There are a few things you should know before you go into labour with your little line-backer.
#1- Nobody Can ACCURATELY Predict the Size of Your Baby Before Birth.
I know we all are glamoured by technology in pregnancy: dopplers, ultrasounds and 3-D ultrasounds make you feel closer to your unborn baby. And ultrasounds are great for locating a rogue placenta and diagnosing fetal heart conditions. But they just aren’t good at predicting your baby’s birthweight. As a nurse, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen women induced before their due date or even scheduled for a caesarean because the doctor suspected a “big baby”. But most of the time, their predictions were off by a pound or two! So, if you’re doctor is pushing you to be induced for a big baby, get another opinion.
#2- The Bones in Your Baby’s Skull Are Not Set in Place
Women and babies are literally built for birth and that’s still so effing cool to me, even after 20 years of working in the birth world!
The bones in your baby’s head are built so that they can flex and retract to fit through the birth canal.
To get an idea of how it works, put your hands together in a prayer position with your palms an inch apart. Now, lace your fingers and bring your hands together- that’s how your baby’s skull bones function during birth!
#3- Your Pelvis is Made to S T R E T C H
Just like your baby’s head is made to contract, your body makes a hormone that relaxes all of the muscles, bones and ligaments in your pelvis. This hormone, called relaxin, is the reason that you felt sore hips while you were walking or sleeping during pregnancy. All along it was doing its job to prepare your pelvis for your birth!
#4- It’s More Important to Change Positions During Birth Than to Worry About the Size of Your Baby
Have you ever known someone who was in labour but then it stalled and they ended up having a c-section? There’s a good chance that they were lying down too long during labour. Your body will tell you what position you should be in to help your baby move down the birth canal if you just listen. This is tough to achieve when you have an epidural but it’s not impossible! So move often while you’re in labour because gravity is a real thing in the birth process.
#5- Medication During Labour DOES Affect Your Birth (Sorry.)
Please hear me now- I’m not judging anyone who wants to have an epidural! I’ve literally helped hundreds of women give birth and a large portion of them chose to have an epidural. But- if you’re having a larger baby, you should know that medications during labour can affect your baby’s rotation and descent in the birth canal.
What happens when a baby isn’t descending or rotating during labour?
Your labour can slow down and even stop. That’s when you need help from interventions like: episiotomy, vacuum or forceps and even a caesarean.
#6- Your Brain Can Stall Your Labour
Holy shit, isn’t that crazy?? It sounds like some new-agey kinda black magic stuff but it’s absolutely true: if you don’t feel confident, safe and protected during birth, your labour can stall. If you’ve ever been sexually abused you may be at risk for a stalled labour. In fact, any kind of stress during labour can literally turn your contractions off. And being afraid of delivering a baby that is going to be “too big” is enough of a stress to bring your labour to a screeching halt and ain't nobody got time for that.
If you've been looking for ways to boost your confidence in the delivery room, check out this post:
Joanne Ilaqua - CEO of MamaSoup
Hey there, I’m Joanne.
I’ve spent about 20 years serving women as a nurse, doula and Lamaze educator. I have 4 kids and I know firsthand how lonely and isolating motherhood can be, so I created MamaSoup. I'm mostly known for my love of red wine, spontaneously singing and my confidence in being my true self on social media. When I’m not busy building women up, you can catch me taking Instagram stories of my bulldog Ruby, watching The Handmaid’s Tale, playing MUber (Mom Uber) to my kids or vacationing in my favourite town: Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
I love serving the world by providing a space for moms to connect and support each other. In my opinion, moms are the backbone of communities because they are (literally) raising the future!
As the founder and CEO of MamaSoup, I’ve been featured on CHEX TV Morning Show, KawarthaNOW, Economic Development- The City of Kawartha Lakes and MyKawartha.
Still with me? Join me over at MamaSoup to keep the conversation going!