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Delivery complications due to big babies

For expectant mothers in Queens, the nine months leading up to the birth of their babies may be considered, in essence, a prolonged preparation for the delivery itself. One might think that with that amount of time to prepare, combined with the advances made in recent years in prenatal care, the potential of suffering delivery complications would be virtually nonexistent. Sadly, that is not the case. In fact, one factor that many may attribute to a healthy pregnancy may actually increase the risk of injury to both mom and baby during the birthing process.

Macrosomia is the term used to define babies that are considerably large for their gestational age. According to the website UpToDate.com, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists reports that macrosomic morbidity begins to increase in infants weighing more than 4000 g, with 4500 g (9 pounds 15 ounces) being the officially defined threshold.  It is estimated that nearly 9 percent of all babies born worldwide weigh in excess of 4000 g.

Babycenter.com reports that big babies may run the risk of suffering shoulder dystocia during delivery, which obstructs their passage beyond the mothers’ pubic bones and could potentially result in serious injury or death. Meanwhile, mothers whose babies are macrosomic could experience complications such as:

  •          Increased blood loss
  •          Perineal tears
  •          Damage to the coccyx (tailbone)

Factors such as the occurrence of gestational diabetes, obesity and a personal history of delivering big babies may present an increased risk for macrosomia. Doctors may also attempt to estimate a baby’s size prior to delivery by measuring the mother’s fundal height (distance from the pelvic bone to the uterus) or checking for excessive abdominal fluid. While these methods are not failsafe, they could help prepare providers to deal with whatever complications could arise if a baby is extremely large.  

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