In 3.5 hours from now, it will have been six months since I delivered a 10-pound baby in just one hour. This milestone has made me reminisce, thus spurring on the urge to write about that night. But I've also been spurred on by reading a worried Facebook post from a pregnant friend who was just told that her baby is measuring big. I wanted to share my experience as a way to help bust the big baby myth. After all, it's not always the experience that one would expect.
My first baby was not exactly small at eight pounds three ounces. So with my large pregnant belly (or so I was told– I never really noticed how big it was), I was sure my second baby would be about nine pounds. At my 25-week ultrasound, the sonographer said that the measurements were big, and recommended that I come back for another scan at 33 weeks. But I hummed and aahed over this recommendation. While ultrasounds are amazing, they make me a bit uncomfortable. Also, if it was a big baby, did I really want to know? I would rather minimize any and all potential panicky thoughts.
I decided to speak to my midwife about it. She didn’t see anything alarming in the ultrasound measurements other than that he had a large tummy. She was also able to tell from touching my belly that he was long. I thought, So what if he has a large tummy and is long? She agreed that there was no risk if I chose not to have that ultrasound. So, I decided that the mystery of his size would be revealed at birth.
In the meantime, I blissfully continued on with the pregnancy without knowing exactly how big my baby was going to be. By 38, 39, and then 40 weeks, I was absolutely done with being pregnant. I had bad sciatica and my pelvis felt like it was being pressed on so hard. I knew he must be big, but I was still naïvely saying to myself “nine pounds, nine pounds, nine pounds.”
Then, four days after his due date, I got that contraction I knew wasn’t a warning at 1:35 AM. Labor was definitely starting. I told my husband to call the midwife, and then somehow made it to the bathroom. Thank goodness we had planned a home birth because from that moment on, I could barely talk or move. I was stuck in that bathroom.
My contractions were intense, and there was no break in between them. I thought, No way can I do this for hours again. (I was in labor for 29 hours with my first). But I soon realized I had transitioned to pushing! The midwife arrived and announced the head was coming out just 20 minutes later. My husband was shocked. I wasn’t; I knew it but was unable to communicate it. My baby was born by 2:35 AM. I promptly scooped him up and held him to my chest.
The midwife and her team immediately said, “Oh he’s big!”. A bit later, when they got out the weighing sling, there were shrieks of even more amazement. “Wow, he’s 10 pounds 10 ounces- nearly five kilograms!” But like my belly, he didn’t really look big to me. He just looked like him somehow. I don't know how else to explain it.
My baby is still big, but that has been a good thing! I haven't had the stress of weight gain, he sleeps well because he can go for long stretches without feeding, and he’s just a chubby bundle of delight. My only issues are being unable to carry him in the baby carrier for long, and him blasting through clothes so fast that I can barely keep up.
The question remains: why was my baby so big? Well, genetics is a major factor to consider. Both my husband and I were born by c-section before our due dates, so we don't know how much our weight would have been at 40 weeks. But his family are all very tall, and I am fairly tall, so I am certain that genetics played a role. I also ate A LOT in my third trimester!
People always comment on how big he is. When they learn of his birth weight, I usually get one of two responses: “Wow, you are a superhero!” or “Oh no, poor you!” I'm sure I would have said either of these things had someone told me they had such a big baby. They're congratulatory and caring responses and are to be expected. But in a way, they make me feel like a fraud! I don’t feel like a superhero anymore than any other woman who's given birth. Laboring for endless hours is so much tougher. That doesn't even include people who go through birthing trauma, which is a whole other thing. Those women are the superheroes in the birthing game- or maybe we all are.
Gestational diabetes is said to be a common culprit for a large baby. I didn’t take the gestational diabetes test, so we'll never know for sure if I had it or not. But the main danger with this condition is that it can cause a big baby, and therefore result in a difficult or complicated delivery. Yet I survived such a thing. I even asked my midwife if there were any other concerns if I'd had gestational diabetes without knowing. She said if I did have it, she would recommend that when my baby's older, he and should I avoid refined sugar. But then again, she would say that to anyone as part of a recommendation for a healthy diet. So that potential concern is behind me.
In addition, there's a moderate association between birth weight and childhood obesity. But according to multiple medical studies, a much greater link to childhood obesity is poor diet and physical activity lifestyle choices for children. There are more reasons to keep ourselves on track in those areas, which isn't a bad thing.
So if you're told that you're carrying a large baby, a good idea is to prepare for the potential of having an accidental, unassisted homebirth! Unable to walk, I couldn't have made it to a car, let alone a hospital, on time. Other than that, don't panic! Having a big baby doesn't guarantee a traumatic or difficult birth experience. With my son, we'll never know why he came out so fast and so easily. There were probably many factors- it was my second childbirth, the shape of my pelvis and his position. But I do wonder if his weight and gravity had a lot to do with it.
Of course, this was my experience- and it's important to remember that every birth is entirely different. Your choices on what to do throughout your pregnancy should be talked through and decided with the guidance of your care provider.