Can your baby’s size put you at risk?

As you progress through your pregnancy, your main hope is likely that your baby will continue to grow and develop at a healthy rate. Yet is there a point where your baby might be too big? You have probably heard stories about women giving birth to large babies told in a humorous context, but the reality is that delivering a big baby can be quite an ordeal. Both you and your child could end up experiencing severe health complications due to his or her size. 

The clinical terms used to describe big babies are “fetal macrosomia” or “large-for-gestational-age.” According to the Mayo Clinic, a baby is considered to be LGA when his or weight exceeds 4000 grams (8 pounds 3 ounces). While the risk of pregnancy-related complications may increase slightly with babies born just above this size, they are said to be dramatically higher when a newborn’s weight exceeds 9 pounds 15 ounces.  

Just what are those risks? An LGA baby could increase your chances of suffering: 

  • Uterine rupture
  • Genital tract lacerations during delivery 
  • Excessive postpartum bleeding

Many of the risk factors that contribute to fetal macrosomia may be out of your control, such as the development of gestational diabetes, a family history of LGA babies, or your age at the time of your delivery (big babies are more common in women who deliver after the age of 35). However, your weight gain (which can also influence the size of your baby) during your pregnancy is within your control. This raises the question of how much is your doctor responsible for helping control such factors. If he or she offers absolutely no advice as to how your lifestyle might influence the weight of your baby, you could potentially point to such an omission as being negligent. 

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