Oh, if ever there was a lie I wish care providers would stop telling women, it would be that “your baby is just too big for your body.” This is the most degrading, and inaccurate thing you can instill in a woman who is about to embark on motherhood. It immediately crushes her confidence, erases the faith she had in her body, makes her question what she did wrong, and insinuates that she is, in fact, defective and inadequate.
I have heard this explanation from countless women, who are bullied into inductions and cesarians. They truly believe that if they choose to refuse surgery or a premature induction, they are putting their baby at risk for catastrophe. THIS IS NOT TRUE. It is just not true. Anecdotally, all of these women I spoke with proceeded to give birth to 7lb-8.5 lb babies. Your care provider saying things such as, “your baby is too big,” or “wow, baby is getting big!” or “this should be fun, baby is already measuring 8 lbs!” are warning signs for you. They are giant red flags that are simply not based in evidence, and should make you question their intentions. If the comments are followed by suggestions for scheduling an induction at 38, 39 weeks (well before baby is of mature gestation) or jumping straight to a c-section date, then please know your rights, your baby’s rights to be born when they are ready, and the EVIDENCE.
When a “big baby” is suspected, care providers fear shoulder dystocia. This is an event where baby’s head is born, and passing of the shoulders becomes difficult, and may require outside assistance for fear that baby isn’t getting enough oxygen. This is a huge cause of litigation for care providers if there is nerve damage, or other issues at birth. Here is the actual evidence based information you need to know regarding shoulder dystocia:
“One high-quality study showed that in in non-diabetic women, shoulder dystocia happened to 0.65% of babies who weighed less than 8 lbs., 13 oz. (6.5 cases out of 1,000 births), 6.7% of babies who weighed between 8 lbs., 13 oz. and 9 lbs., 15 oz. (60 out of 1,000), and 14.5% of babies who weighed 9 lbs., 15 oz. or greater (145 out of 1,000) (Rouse et al. 1996).”
Most care providers aren’t aware of how to naturally assist the woman in dealing with a shoulder dystocia. Typically, in the US, a woman is forced to lie on her back with her legs spread to push her baby out against gravity, through a birth canal blocked by the compressed coccyx, while being yelled at to hold her breath and count to ten, and try not to pass out. When a birthing person can move freely (only possible if she hasn’t been coerced into an epidural) she will naturally assume a position that allows the passing of her baby through an open birth canal. Yes, even 11 lb. babies are born this way.
Ina May Gaskin learned a commonly used Guatemalan technique to reducing shoulder dystocia. The technique is encouraging an “all fours” position, and the baby can efficiently be born without intervention. In a study, Gaskin et al. discovered: “the incidence of shoulder dystocia was 1.8%, and half of the newborns weighed > or = 4,000 g. Sixty-eight women (83%) delivered without the need for any additional maneuvers. The mean diagnosis-to-delivery interval was 2.3 +/- 1.0 (SD) minutes (range, 1-6). No maternal or perinatal mortality occurred. Morbidity was noted in only four deliveries: a single case of postpartum hemorrhage that did not require transfusion (maternal morbidity, 1.2%), one infant with a fractured humerus and three with low Apgar scores (neonatal morbidity, 4.9%). All morbidity occurred in cases with a birth weight > 4,500 g (P = .0009).”
The problem is that women are simply not encouraged to move during labor. They are not encouraged to assume a hand and knees position. They are not encouraged to labor on the toilet, or in water, or in any other position that a birthing person would naturally take in her own time if left undisturbed. They certainly are not encouraged by their providers, or their society that they can handle the intensity of child birth, and that they were perfectly designed to deliver the babies their bodies crafted. The hips loosen throughout pregnancy, and even more so during actual labor time. The body softens, and unless mother is told she is inadequately built and doesn’t try natural birth, the body releases a baby without complication.
Another huge component in this fear factory, is the use of faulty technology to come to the conclusion that you are carrying baby Sasquatch! Ultrasound has a ~+/-2 lb margin of error! 4 lbs! When your provider “measures” your baby at 38 weeks and says, “yikes, already an 8 pounder in there!” your sweet baby could be growing comfortably at 6 lbs, on track to be born when she decides at 41 weeks 3 days at a perfectly AVERAGE weight, with fully formed lungs and capacity to efficiently suckle, that you are more than capable of birthing.
The evidence just does not support evicting a premature baby (because anyone born before they released hormones saying, “I’m ready to come out!” is premature for their own development) simply because they are suspected to be large. Do your own research, never live by the confines of fear, follow your instincts, trust your baby, trust your body and its ability to birth.
I’ll leave you with this little gem 🙂