Valerie Gommon Midwife’s Blog

Bigger Babies

Posted on: September 16, 2010

This is a guest blog written by one of my clients, Sarah.

I thought it would be interesting to cover having larger babies at home, having just had one (10lb 6oz) and to have a look at  some common worries.

I was lucky enough to have a great midwife for my last birth who was not in any way phased by the possibility of a large baby, however a flippant remark at a late scan made me worry that maybe we are scared into changing our plans by such remarks unnecessarily.  Happily I did go on to have my baby at home!

Common Concerns:-

The baby may be too big to pass through the pelvis (called cephalopelvic disproportion if you like!) – this is not generally considered to be an emergency situation, and if this situation arises, your labour will fail to progress, at which point you can then transfer to hospital to deliver your baby with medical help.  Therefore its realistic to continue to plan for a homebirth and to try for a homebirth with an open mind that you may have to transfer if needed.

Shoulder Dystocia – this is where the shoulders get stuck after the head is born. This can be fatal for baby but fortunately is extremely rare and is considered to be more likely to occur in a hospital birth as research has shown that induction in cases of suspected large babies has not reduced the incidences of this condition.

There are also positions that a midwife can manoeuver a labouring woman into to help to dislodge the shoulders should this occur.
Is baby actually big? Scans are often  shown to over estimate birth weight. One study found this to be the case in 77% of their diagnosis of a large baby. The estimated weight was only within 500g for 41 of the 86 women studied which is a considerable margin!

A UK  Govt  report (CESDI) into the death of large babies declined to use fetal ultrasound estimates as they felt the evidence of their inaccuracies was well documented and went on to concede that this could lead to unnecessary interventions.

Big baby = more pain – pain is subjective so this is a hard one to reassure.  Different labours can be more painful for numerous reasons (ie. position of baby, birthing position, maternal well being etc), and size may have a bearing on this. The head is the hardest part to birth, therefore a very small baby with a larger than average head may well be more painful than a large baby with an average sized head.

Conclusion:-

It appears that although there may be some reasons where a large baby may present problems, the majority are not a foregone conclusion, and generally not posing an emergency situation, and therefore its arguable that its not a reason to abandon plans for a homebirth.

Different positions can be adopted to aid the birth of a larger baby, and by having a larger baby at home, you are still reducing your chances of having medical interventions.
A larger baby is not a reason on its own to have a hospital birth.

PS From Valerie – women do not usually grow a baby that is too big for them.  Exceptions to this could be if Mum is particularly small and Dad is of generous proportions!  This said many smaller women will still go on to birth big babies!

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