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The risks big babies may pose to mothers

Throughout their pregnancies, expecting parents closely monitor the growth of their babies, using that as a sign of healthy progress. It is possible, however, for a developing baby to grow to a point where his or her size could cause complications during delivery. Big babies are termed to be large for their gestational age (the actual clinical name applied to this condition is “fetal macrosomia”). While whether or not a baby is determined to be LGA depends on his or her exact gestational age, the Mayo clinic defines the fetal macrosomia threshold as being 4000 grams, or 8 pounds, 13 ounces.

There are already inherent risks that come with delivering an average size baby vaginally, whose weight is estimated by Stanford Children’s Health to be seven pounds. One can only imagine how much greater the stress may be on both mother and baby if the baby is close to two pounds larger. Mothers delivering LGA babies have shown to be at a greater risk of suffering complications such as:

  • Uterine rupture
  • Genital tract lacerations
  • Post-delivery bleeding

There are, however, certain factors that could indicate the potential of a mother delivering an LGA baby. Mothers who experience gestational diabetes, are over the age of 35, or who are obese or gain significant weight during their pregnancies are more likely to have large babies. The same is true for women who have a history or delivering LGA babies. Doctors should recognize these risk factors and plan accordingly, encouraging expectant mother to control their weight gain and/or manage diabetes.

If prenatal ultrasounds indicate one has an LGA baby, a doctor may bypass some of the risks associated with delivery by recommending that the baby be delivered via elective C-section.

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