Is My Baby Too Big to Deliver Vaginally?

vaginal delivery of large baby

A woman’s body is designed to deliver babies, but is there a point where a baby can be too big to deliver naturally?

The average newborn weighs in at about 7 lbs. 8 oz. Obstetricians and midwives measure your fundal height (distance from the top of your uterus to your pubic bone) each time you go in for a check-up to see if your baby is growing at a normal rate and approximately how big he or she may be. While these measurements are fairly good estimates, they aren’t exact.

If your baby seems to be much bigger than average, he or she may be considered “macrosomic,” which simply means “big body.” A macrosomic baby is more than 9 lbs. 15 oz. at birth. When your baby inches toward that 10-pound mark, there can be a higher chance of serious complications for both mom and baby during a vaginal birth.

Possible Complications of Delivering a Large Baby Vaginally

There are certain risks involved in delivering a large baby. Here are some of the most common maternal complications:

  • Stalled labor
  • Cervix does not fully dilate – If the baby cannot fully descend into birth canal because it’s too large, it can prevent your cervix from dilating to 10 cm.
  • Increased risk of 4th degree perineal tear
  • Increased risk of postpartum hemorrhage

Here are the most common newborn complications:

  • Shoulder dystocia – Rare complication where baby’s shoulders get caught behind your pubic bone during delivery. This can cause nerve damage in the baby’s arm and shoulder, and possibly a broken collar bone.
  • Temporary rapid breathing in baby – Also known as “wet lung.”
  • Fever
  • Birth Trauma
  • Stillbirth

As with almost any pregnancy-related issue, you should talk to your obstetrician, midwife or other healthcare provider about the best plan for you and your baby. A vaginal birth may work just fine, or your doctor may recommend inducing and/or a c-section depending on your particular situation (i.e. if you have gestational diabetes).

If you have any pregnancy-related questions or concerns, talk with your All About Women pregnancy care physician or make an appointment at our Gainesville or Lake City offices today.

Further Reading:

What to Expect After a Cesarean

7 Common Post Pregnancy Problems

You may enjoy reading...