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July 21, 2024

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Projected Birth Weight: Low vs High

Worried about the growth rate of your baby? Here's what you should know about low birth weight and bigger-than-normal babies. But, in the early stages of pregnancy, you really shouldn't worry too much.

Baby Watch Blog: 20 Weeks & Counting!

Pregnant women are great at many things, and one of those is eating! Everyone always says, โ€œYou are eating for two.โ€ However, overeating is not good for you as you donโ€™t want to gain a lot of excess weight. But, what if youโ€™re not gaining any weight at all? That is what Iโ€™ve been dealing with, and I was concerned for my baby. Concerned that he could be born with a low birth weight.

Cause for Low-Birth Weight Babies

Here I am at 20 weeks and finally gained one-and-a-half pounds! I was really beginning to worry about that for several reasons; one was having a low birth weight baby. According to the March of Dimes, this could happen if you have:

  • Preterm labor
  • Chronic health conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes and heart/lung/kidney problems
  • Infections
  • Problems with the placenta
  • Not gaining enough weight during pregnancy
  • Older than 35 at time of delivery
  • Smoking, drinking alcohol, using drugs, etc.

From that list, I fall under three of those: chronic health (high blood pressure and hypothyroidism), not gaining enough weight during pregnancy, and Iโ€™ll be older than 35 at time of delivery. The March of Dimes states low birth weight babies can have respiratory distress syndrome, bleeding in the brain, heart problems, intestinal problems and problems with the blood vessels in their eyes. Later in life, they can encounter diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, metabolic syndrome or obesity.

Iโ€™ve been worried about not gaining enough weight so far. However, my little growing boy is proving this to be wrong. I may not be gaining the weight, but he sure is! At my 20-week checkup, he was weighing in at 14 ounces โ€” thatโ€™s bigger than he should be. His head is large as well as his abdomen. Everything else inside his little body seems to be doing just fine, too. That said, another problem comes up โ€” large for gestational age (LGA) baby. (Baby Center has a handy little chart to compare the gestation size to if you really want to know the average size of baby during the weeks of pregnancy.)

LGA Baby Concerns

Although itโ€™s mainly large mothers who have LGA babies โ€” which is not me โ€” there are still a few possible reasons for a bigger-than-normal baby. For instance, if you have gestational diabetes your due date could be off (thatโ€™s just an estimate anyway), or heโ€™s just gonna be a big, healthy baby! But, did you see that reference to gestational diabetes? What if his larger-than-normal size right now is an early sign of that? Youโ€™re not usually screened for it until 28 weeks. So, that leaves me with waiting two more months to find out. Iโ€™ve never had to deal with gestational diabetes, but diabetes does run in my family. I wouldnโ€™t even know where to begin.

Why is having a big baby a cause for concern? According to Stanford Childrenโ€™s Health, LGA babies (many are born to diabetic mothers) can cause you to have delivery problems such as prolonged vaginal delivery time (which wonโ€™t go well if I go epidural free as planned), a difficult birth, birth injury or even possible C-section โ€” after delivery, Baby could have hypoglycemia, increased incidence of birth defects or difficulty breathing.

Now that Iโ€™ve gotten all the info and I’ve had some time to think on it, I’m so happy with my 20-week checkup that I really think I shouldn’t worry at all. My doctors are not concerned; they’re actually happy with his size. One even said that he could just be growing fast at the moment and then he could stable out and become average in weight gain. For my body’s sake, I hope he’s right! So, Iโ€™m just going to sit back and enjoy all his little kicks โ€” except for the ones where heโ€™s treating my bladder like a trampoline! And, maybe Iโ€™ll go get some fries โ€ฆ all of this worrying makes me hungry.

Epidural Update: Starting to feel like it might not be a good idea.



About the Author

Kiera Ashford - Baby Watch Blog

Kiera Ashford is associate editor of Nashville Parent and mother of two rambunctious kids and a new baby!