Updated: Dec 29, 2020
As we continue chatting about big babies, I want to address the fact that many predictions about infant size are totally off. Whether that‘s a palpation prediction or ultrasound prediction. The frustrating thing about this isn’t even the accuracy or inaccuracy of the prediction, but rather the impact that making these predictions has on the mindset of a mother preparing for birth.
Preparing for birth includes a lot of mindset work. Not only are we preparing ourselves physically and emotionally, we need to prepare mentally. If you’ve ever heard the expression “mind over matter”... well that’s birth in a nutshell. But pregnant women can be fragile and sensitive (not a bad thing in the slightest. I believe that Is part of God’s perfect design.) However, this means that ”well meaning” or seemingly benign comments from family, friends, and providers can really screw with a woman’s mentality going into birth. Unsolicited opinions can breed fear where confidence once lived. Dr. Kara Rangel, a chiropractor in South Jersey, shared her story with me about the inaccurate prediction of a big baby and how it made her feel as she prepared for an unmedicated birth.
Each time a provider palpated my belly they always said “it’s going to be a big baby! I’m guessing 9-9.5lbs” (I didn’t ask for their guess...). My goal was to have an unmedicated birth which they knew and I was so excited for. I had full trust in my body throughout my pregnancy and just knew that my body wouldn’t make a baby “too big” for me to birth. Each time they told me this though, I couldn’t help but feel as though they were doubting I would be able to birth my baby. I’m fortunate enough to have went into the process expecting these “guesses” and knew the statistics around them so that put always put me at ease. I’m also so proud to say that I (a petite woman) birthed my 8lb 13oz baby vaginally & unmedicated!
One thing that really strikes me about Kara’s experience is that she knew going into it that these predictions were commonly wrong, and that gave her the strength of mind to combat the seeds of fear that could have been sown. I believe this is a strong testament to preparing adequately for childbirth. There are so many topics that the typical childbirth course doesn’t touch on. Even the most comprehensive courses can struggle to touch on every hot topic because hellloooooo! A few weeks is not long enough to learn about pregnancy, birth, and motherhood. This really is a “baptism by fire” situation unless you’ve been exposed to pregnancy and birth work for years. And even then there is usually still so much to learn.
This is one reason why I strongly advocate for all mothers to work with a doula. Even if you choose not to have a doula present at your birth, prepping with a doula can really help navigate the unknowns that could pop up at the end of pregnancy. I’m sure if Kara didn’t have experience working with women during the childbearing year, she would have found much solace in having a supportive guide to be a sounding board if those fears of a big baby had taken root.
Another inspiring example of a woman taking charge of her birth is Ashlyn who is a doula. Below is an excerpt of the story she shared with me.
My 2nd baby was "too big" for my pelvis. I previously gave birth to a baby almost 8 lbs. My OBGYN took it up themselves to schedule a csection 2 weeks before my estimated due date. I argued my point of the fact that ultrasound weight is not an adequate reason for csection. They refused to cancel. I didnt show up to that date and baby came vaginally at 7lbs 7oz. on his own. I felt really unheard with that particular provider. Thankfully they were not on call during my labor and birth (was actually on vacation).
Not only is this a prime example of inaccurate predictions, but it’s a perfect example of abysmal healthcare practices with zero respect for the patient. It’s almost hard to hear this story without wondering if the provider was scheduling the section to be able to attend vacation and still get paid for the birth instead of letting another provider get that check. This is why there are so many people who question providers, and these kind of providers make a bad name for the good ones. It breeds a widespread mistrust in the field of healthcare, which is even MORE impactful, in my opinion, in the specialty of maternal health. The breakdown of trust and practices like Ashlyn described are a prime example of why the maternal morbidity rate in America is terrifyingly high.
What is more notable and remarkable is Ashlyn’s inspirational self advocacy skills. We can see that she used the BRAIN approach to make the difficult decision to stand up against this provider. This is the approach I teach in my Birth Plan workshop where you learn how to make a birth plan that will give you power, like Ashlyn had.
These are not the only inspiring stories out there about big babies and the weird fear culture that surrounds them. It is amazing to me how the minute a baby is presumed to be big, providers default to fear tactics and even go against ACOG recommendations in doing so. If you didn’t catch the blog post about the benefits and risks of induced birth for suspected fetal macrosomia, pop on over now to learn more. The next and final post in this installment will be a deeper dive into the recommendations of Ashlyn’s provider, and explore prophylactic cesarean in the case of a suspected large baby. I think you will be really interested to see what ACOG has to say! Stay tuned!
Jaimie Zaki is a Birth Doula, IBCLC, Birth & Motherhood photographer, Air Force Wife, and proud MamaBear, owner of Little Bear Services LLC. Jaimie has breastfed 3 babies, personally dealt with challenges like tongue tie, mastitis, and has even more experience supporting mothers through the various challenges of breastfeeding. Jaimie has also had the “birth experience trifecta” having a C-section, medicated hospital VBAC, and intervention free home birth (HBAC). Jaimie inspires mothers to birth and breastfeed with confidence by teaching self-paced online childbirth and breastfeeding education, providing Virtual Doula support, Virtual Lactation Consults, Prenatal Birth and Breastfeeding Planning, and in-home support in the South Jersey area. If you would like to work with Jaimie email email@example.com now to learn how you can schedule your 30 minute consult to see which support package would be best to help you reach your goals!