There’s a mindset especially when it comes to babies that bigger is better. (Well, not past 10 lbs, for example, but in general, I’d say.)
When I was told at 32 weeks gestation that my baby was already 5 lbs, I was delighted. That’s because we knew he might be born prematurely, and if he was already that big, then he would have to be fine, right?
He was born two weeks later, at 34 weeks, and it turns out the ultrasound was a little off. He was actually 4 lbs 15 oz at birth. Still, not bad, I thought.
The neonatal specialist who visited with us in the hospital tried to prepare us for potential problems with the early birth. According to him, it didn’t really matter how big or small our baby was. The single most important indicator of how well he would do would be gestational age. (He also said preemie girls typically tend to fare better.)
Babies certainly have been getting bigger for the last 30 years. A study in Australia looked at what might be making babies bigger these days. They found contributing factors to be fewer moms smoking, more giving birth later in life, and an increase in gestational diabetes as many moms themselves are bigger these days.
Here’s some data from the study in Australia:
Between 1990 and 2005, according to the study, the percentage of full-term male infants weighing greater than 4000 g (8 lbs 13 oz) increased from 14.3 to 15.8% (a 10.5% increase), and the percentage with birthweight over 4500 g (9 lbs 14 oz) increased from 2.2 to 2.4% (a 9% increase); male infants born LGA (large for gestational age) increased from 9.2% to 10.8% (a 17.9% increase). The percentage of female infants with birthweight over 4000 g increased from 8.3 to 9.5% (a 15.2% increase), and the percentage with birthweight greater than 4500 g increased from 1 to 1.2% (a 20% increase); female infants born LGA increased from 9.1 to 11% (a 21% increase).
I was 6 lbs 2 oz when I was born, at full term. At four weeks early, my first son was 7 lbs 1 oz. The second guy might have been around that, if he’d stayed in longer.
I guess we’re an example of the trend toward bigger babies. How about you?