Find out more about inductions, cesareans and having a big baby.
Though we all love chubby-cheeked babies, many women fear having to give birth to a large baby. It can be tempting to try to get the baby out before he/she gets too big. In fact, sometimes women may hear from their providers that the only way to make sure you have a vaginal birth is to induce labor before the baby gets too big.
Should I be induced if my baby is too big?
Unfortunately, we know that labor inductions are no guarantee that the baby will be born vaginally. In fact, inductions are more likely to result in a cesarean , especially when your body may not be ready for labor.
Even though it sounds reasonable to try to get the baby out before she gets too big, the Cochrane Review Board says that based on the available research findings, there is “no evidence of improved outcomes following induction of labor for women who are thought to be carrying large babies.”
How can we know if the baby is too big?
One of the ways that baby’s weight is estimated is by ultrasound. However, the measurements made on the baby are based on averages and do not represent the exact weight of the baby. Although sometimes the ultrasound estimates have been accurate, my doula clients have often discovered that the weight estimates made of their suspected large baby have been off by as much as a pound or more.
How big is too big?
There is no way to truly tell before labor how big your baby truly is OR how big a baby you could give birth to safely. Crazy as it sounds, small babies can get into positions that make it harder for them to come out, while large babies in an anterior position (face down) could easily navigate their way through the mother’s pelvis! Take a look at what happens in labor that can help you give birth to your baby no mattter how big he is.
How do you and baby work together?
Did you know that your body is designed to accommodate even a large baby? During pregnancy, the hormone relaxin is secreted to loosen and soften your joints and ligaments. This can help your pelvis expand not only during pregnancy but during labor.
The baby’s head has two softs spots, called fontanels, where the bony plates in his skull have not fused. These fontanels allow the bones to overlap and “mold” to the mother’s body as it comes through the birth canal. These two mechanisms are important ways that mothers and babies work together during childbirth.
Certain positions will make more room for a big baby as well. Did you know that squatting can open your pelvis by as much as 30%? Squatting is a great position to use toward the end of your pushing to make room as the baby head is descending lower into your vagina and is just visible.
On a personal note, the largest baby I have helped come into the world was well over 11 pounds. The mother had two previous cesareans because of suspected “big babies” and lack of progress. This VBAC mother proves that even with circumstances against you, your body can still do it!
Tips for giving birth to a big baby:
- Allow labor to begin on its own without being induced.
- Use a variety of positions during labor and pushing.
- Consider a squatting position if needed.
- Ask for as much time in labor as possible, especially in pushing.
- Use additional labor support, such as a doula to help you with pain relief techniques and progress.
- Consider the benefits of a natural birth since pushing is more effective and progress is better than if you use pain medication. Also pain meds can make it harder to get into certain positions such as squatting.
- Get regular chiropractic adjustments so that your spine and pelvis are in alignment before you go into labor.
- Practice your positioning and exercises during pregnancy so that your body is toned and has the stamina to stay in these positions, if needed, for 30 minutes or longer during labor.
Are you worried about your baby being too big? Tell us about it.