When you are pregnant and looking forward to the birth of your new baby, there are many things that come to mind, such as the baby’s gender, potential names, and more. However, one factor which can cause some women to be anxious is the birth weight of the baby as it can lead to complications during labor. A large baby leads to a higher likelihood of injuries to the newborn and also the mother. It is therefore important for your doctor to be able to predict the birth weight of your child. In most cases, the birth weight of the baby can be predicted using an ultrasound. There are also researchers who report that a mathematical equation is just as effective at predicting the birth weight of babies when compared to ultrasounds. The equation has been tested and takes into account several factors such as the stage of pregnancy, weight gain during the third trimester, the mother’s weight and height, the number of previous children, and the gender of the baby.
In an observation of 244 women who delivered single babies, the equation was found to have accurately predicted the birth weight of babies within an average of 8% of the actual birth weight. In 87% of the births, prediction was accurate within 15% of the actual birth weight of the babies. In ultrasounds, it has been estimated to predict within 8 to 15% of the actual birth weight.
Researchers and doctors believe that the equation is much easier to use compared to the ultrasound. It helps doctors to identify babies who could be bigger than 8.8 pounds, a significant point where the risk of problems associated with child delivery begin to rise. The equation has advantages as it is easier to use and requires no testing, does not need trained staff, has no need for specialized equipment, and the information required can be obtained from the mother’s medical records. It can be calculated in approximately two to three minutes. However, the limitations of the equation so far, is that it can only be used in Caucasian mothers as differences in racial groups means that there are differences in birth weight as well. It also can only be used in mothers who are healthy and have no other co-morbids as diseases such as high blood pressure is linked to a lower birth weight while conditions such as diabetes is associated with a higher birth weight. One of the most crucial piece of information needed for the equation is knowing the exact or approximate duration a woman has been pregnant. This can be estimated using the last day of the last menstrual period or through the analyzation of an early ultrasound.
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What is the Average Weight of a Baby?
Babies that are premature are always smaller compared to babies at term, in both length and weight. Most babies that are delivered at 40 weeks of gestational age weigh an average of approximately 7.63 pounds. The later the baby is born, the heavier the baby tends to be. For example. The average of babies born at 41 weeks of gestational age weighs an average of 7.93 pounds while those at 42 weeks of gestation weighs an average of 8.12 pounds. Babies at 38 weeks averages at 6.8 pounds. So, does weight matter? As long as the baby stays in the normal range, it should not be a problem. However, a baby with low birth weight or small for gestational age have a higher risk of low blood sugar, oxygen deficiencies, and have difficulty maintaining their body temperature. Like their bigger counterparts, overweight babies are at risk for injury during delivery and having low blood sugar.
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Changes to Your Cervix and Vagina During Delivery
The vagina and cervix start to go through changes during pregnancy in anticipation of delivery. During labor, the cervix starts to dilate and efface. The dilation will reach approximately 10 centimeters in diameter. This also happens to the vaginal canal and vulva in order to accommodate the baby’s passage from the uterus to the outside. In the second and third trimester, the hormone “relaxin” functions to help the ligaments relax and stretch so anticipate the process of childbirth. The vagina will stretch around the baby during delivery. Once the baby’s head emerges, there will be great relief of pressure and pushing stops momentarily while the baby’s nose and mouth are suctioned to clear out mucus and amniotic fluid. The baby’s head is then rotated to help you deliver the rest of the body.
After the clamping of the umbilical cord, the third stage of labor involves the delivery of the placenta. After the placenta is delivered, it is examined to ensure that there are no residues that adhere to the uterine wall. If there are remnants, your doctor will have to reach into the uterus to remove the pieces to prevent heavy bleeding.
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Ways to Measure Your Baby’s Growth
There are several methods to hep you keep track of your baby’s growth. This website shows step by step instructions on how you can measure and record the growth of your baby. To summarize:
a) Growth chart – record the measurements your doctor provides during your visits. You can use an app on the phone to key in the measurements that will help you track and show you the growth of your baby. There are also free charts that can be obtained online. Remember that babies grow at different rates so try not to be overly worried if the growth of your baby is too slow or fast.
b) Fundal height – this method is also used by many doctors to assess the growth and progress of your pregnancy. First, make sure you empty your bladder. Use a soft measuring tape that measures in centimeters. Remove your clothes and lie down and make yourself comfortable. Locate the fundus (top of uterus) and start measuring at this location vertically until u reach the pelvic bone in the lower abdomen (usually where the pubic hair begins). The measurement should correlate to your gestational weeks of pregnancy plus minus 2 centimeters. For example, at 33 weeks of pregnancy, your fundal height should be between 31 to 35 centimeters. This does not apply in multiple gestations or in obese women.
c) Ultrasound – this is one of the most accurate ways to measure the growth and size of your baby. If you have any doubts or questions about your pregnancy, this is a great time to ask questions and clarify your doubts
Largest Baby Born
When we talk about size, there is length and weight. According to the Guinness World Records:
a) The longest baby born was delivered by Anna Bates in Canada. She gave birth to a baby boy known as “Babe”, weighing 9.98kg or 22lbs and measured 71.12cm or 28 inches in length. Unfortunately, the boy passed away 11 hours later. This occurred in 6th August 1846.
b) The heaviest baby born was by a healthy mother (Sig. Carmelina Fedele) in Aversa Italy in September 1955. She gave birth to a boy who weighed 10.2kg or 22lb 8oz.
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