Is it dangerous to have a big baby?

BabyThursdayIs It Dangerous to Have A Big Baby?

While as many as 18% of pregnant women across the globe worry about delivering a baby prematurely – often resulting in a small or low birth weight baby – 9% have the opposite problem and face delivering a big baby who is significantly larger than average. When a baby weighs over 8 pounds 13 ounces (4,000 grams) at birth, they are diagnosed with fetal macrosomia.

You might have a big baby if…

While it’s true that some babies are born large with no apparent cause, there are certain risk factors that increase the likelihood of fetal macrosomia. These include:

  • Gestational diabetes – When a pregnant woman has gestational diabetes, she has extra glucose in her blood. This crosses the placenta to the baby whose body responds by making more insulin and can cause the baby to grow too large.
  • Prolonged pregnancy – If you have been pregnant over 42 weeks, this is considered a post term or prolonged pregnancy
  • Gaining too much weight during pregnancy
  • Being obese before getting pregnant
  • Having a baby boy
  • Previously delivering a baby with macrosomia
  • Genetic factors
  • Being older than 35

What happens if my baby has fetal macrosomia?

First of all, your doctor will need to determine if your baby is larger than normal. To do this, he or she will perform an ultrasound to take measurements of the baby. Your doctor may also suggest nonstress testing on your baby during the last trimester. A vaginal delivery is still possible, though a C-section could be more likely. After your baby is born, you will be monitored more closely for diabetes, especially in subsequent pregnancies.

Complications of having a big baby

Delivering a large baby puts both mother and baby at greater risk for problems, so the pregnancy becomes high-risk. The health complications to the mother when a baby has fetal macrosomia mostly occur during childbirth. The baby is so large, he can become wedged in the birth canal and possibly sustain injuries, requiring the use of a vacuum or forceps to help pull the baby out. This, of course, can create considerable trauma to mother’s birth canal and perineal tissue (the muscles between the vagina and anus). Because the uterus might not be able to contract properly, having a large baby can also lead to excessive bleeding after delivery.

For the baby, complications from fetal macrosomia can begin with low blood sugar at birth -which could result in a stay in the NICU – and continue throughout childhood with metabolic syndrome and a higher chance of obesity. Your child’s pediatrician should check for these two conditions at each well-child visit.

Unless your doctor is certain about the gestational age of the baby, confirming fetal macrosomia before the baby is born can be a guess at best. Confirmation only occurs once the baby is born and weighed. If you are worried your baby is larger than normal, consult with your physician. Together, you can weigh the pros and cons of your situation and figure out the best outcome for you and your baby.

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Have you had a baby born with fetal macrosomia? Share your experience in the comments below.


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