The Myth of the Too-Big Baby
Your belly has become full and your skin is stretched taut. Your belly button has turned inside out. You waddle when you walk and you can no longer tie your shoes. You may be getting comments that you look “ready to pop” or people may ask if you’re having twins. All these things may make you question your baby and yourself. You wonder, “Just how big is my baby?” You may even question your ability to give birth to your baby.
Don’t stress. You are designed to grow and birth your baby. You are growing just the right size baby for your body. Relaxin, a hormone produced during pregnancy, has been softening your ligaments so that your pelvis will shift to accommodate your baby during birth. The bones in your baby’s head are separated, not fused like an adult’s, so they can mold during birth. With chin tucked in and the help of labor contractions, baby will work his or her way through your pelvis. Your movements and position changes during labor will help baby find the way. With upright positions, gravity will help your baby move down your birth canal.
You may be getting pressure from friends, family or even your care provider to induce before baby gets “too big.” After all, you’ve reached your due date. Many women are induced because their care provider suspects their baby is large. However, plenty of research makes it clear that inducing labor when the baby is thought to be big increases the chance of a cesarean surgery without any benefits for the baby or mother. In fact, lots of babies who are supposedly “too big” turn out to weigh a lot less than expected. This is because both ultrasound and clinical estimates of size are unreliable. Most estimates, even by seasoned doctors and ultrasound technicians, overestimate baby’s size. For these reasons, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) says that suspecting that a baby is large is not a medical reason for induction.
The best way to get any baby out—especially a big baby—is to follow Lamaze's healthy birth practices. Let labor begin on its own; walk, move around and change positions throughout labor; bring a loved one, friend or doula for continuous support; avoid interventions that are not medically necessary; avoid giving birth on back and follow the body’s urges to push; and keep mother and baby together – it’s best for mother, baby and breastfeeding. The way you labor is much more likely to influence your birth journey than your baby’s size.
Know that you can give birth to any size baby. Repeat these affirmations to yourself: “I am growing the right size baby for me. My body is made to birth my baby. I will be able to birth my baby.” Birth your baby with the confidence that you can do it, because you can.