I love big, healthy babies! It does baffle me that some care providers are seemingly so afraid of them – and it seems to me that this fear is grossly misdirected.
Let me tell you about two babies that I was lucky enough to see enter this world in the last couple of weeks.
The first story starts 2.5 weeks ago when I got the call from my client – a first time mother – that her water had just broken. Her fluid was clear and baby was moving well, no contractions to really take notice of…so we waited for labor to begin in its own time.
Hours later she started to feel contractions getting stronger…and soon vita mutari had begun. She moved quickly through her labor with the use of a birth pool, her husband, and her doula and only 5 ½ hours after she started working through the mutari she began spontaneously pushing. This amazing first time mother pushed with impressive strength and commitment – and in only 26 minutes she pushed out her beautiful baby girl! She snuggled with her baby for a while before birthing her placenta and moving to the bed to snuggle in as a family. After finally clamping and cutting the cord, daddy got a cuddle and we were finally able to weigh this sweetheart. As I took baby Brooklyn from her daddy’s arms, I laughed at her rolls and chub. I placed her onto our scale and watched the numbers as they came up: 10 pounds 0 ounces.
Two days ago we helped another big baby slip into his daddy’s hands. Again, labor started with her water breaking – and again, we waited. Labor began, mom pushed when she felt ready to push…and soon after mom began really pushing, we saw the baby crowning – with the head still ‘in the caul’ (meaning, there was a small hole leaking fluid up above, but the baby’s head was born encased in the membranes as if he was inside a water balloon). The head was totally out and still covered in the membranes – a beautiful sight! One more push and the shoulders came free and the membranes tore away. Daddy caught him as he wriggled free and handed him to his mother. Baby Jacob snuggled into his mama’s chest, happy as can be. We were expecting a large baby – this was moms 4th child and all had been big. When they were ready, we took him and gently placed him on the scale – 11 pounds 8 ounces! What a strong, hefty baby! Oh, and again….no tears.
Why is it that so many people are told that they should be afraid of big babies? There are a few reasons…
1. “A big baby may mean an unhealthy baby” – yes, this is true, and is a good reason to be concerned. Someone with uncontrolled diabetes can grow a baby that is unhealthy, too large for her body, with organ issues and such that can negatively impact the baby. This is not a “large baby”! This is an unhealthy baby…and that’s not the same thing. If this is the reason that you are worried about big babies, then your BEST solution is to eat healthy! Get rid of the processed foods, junk foods, sugary snacks…. I KNOW that you know how you should eat, you just might choose not to do it. I understand, it’s hard…I know how hard it can be! Believe me, I love food as much as the next person (probably a lot more!). But knowing that it can prevent an unhealthy baby and dangerous birth – I hope that’s enough motivation for most people.
2. “Shoulder Dystocia (when the head is born but the shoulders get hung up and don’t want to come out after the head is born)” – this is often what is shouted from the hillside as a reason to fear big babies…the dreaded shoulder dystocia. Don’t get me wrong, I am afraid of shoulder dystocia, too! But inducing early, elective cesareans…those aren’t my solutions to shoulder dystocia! I’m speaking to the doctors now – if you are really afraid of shoulder dystocias, then why are you a fan of epidurals where a mother can’t feel her pushing, laying a woman on her back so that she’s pushing uphill, restricting her moments, inducing or augmenting her labor, yelling at her to “push push push…1, 2, 3….”? Those things increase the risk of shoulder dystocia much more than big babies do!! So we are terrified of shoulder dystocia, yet we go after the little fish in the pond instead of the big fish. That’s like saying you are afraid of your house burning down….but rather than removing the cans of gasoline in the garage, making sure the wiring is up to date, taking precautions with your fireplace – you replace the batteries in your smoke detector and say that now you feel safe. Your smoke detectors aren’t the CAUSE of the fires…and healthy big babies aren’t the CAUSE of shoulder dystocia.
3. “Big babies cause tears.” – I just don’t believe this! Big babies don’t cause tears as much as impatient care providers, rough perineal massage, epidurals, lithotomy position, coached pushing, poor diet in pregnancy, dehydration…! The two largest babies I’ve ever seen born were 11 lbs 8 ounces (this weekend), and 13 pounds 5 ounces (many years ago). Neither mom tore at all. (see #2 analogy of smoke detectors)
I love healthy babies – small healthy babies, or big healthy babies. I think that rather than spending her time worrying that the baby will be too big, moms should just worry about eating good, healthy foods and making sure that she is prepared to help her baby be born with her full help in their own time. Her pelvis is made to open, baby’s head is made to mold and shape to fit through – and most of the time it works if we give moms and babies every opportunity to LET it work!
But as I hold these yummy newborn babies with their beautiful chubs and rolls – all I can think is that I love them… and what’s not to love?