August 11, 2011

A Crystal Ball for Baby Sizes?

Our average-sized, perfectly perfect baby

When I was pregnant with Mac, I had several doctors guesstimate what his birth weight would be. Most were clear that theirs was just a ballpark figure; none used an ultrasound to back up any claims.

On the day I delivered, though, a doctor literally felt my stomach (not quite like rubbing Buddha's belly, but close) and told me newborn Mac would weigh "between 7 and 8 pounds."

If I had to guess, I'd say three-quarters of babies are born in that general weight range.

Sure enough, our Mac was born 12 days early weighing 7 pounds and 10 ounces, squarely in the range the doctor predicted. He felt so proud to have been correct!

While my course of treatment and delivery were not affected my doctors' guesses as to Mac's size, I have friends with different experiences. One petite coworker was given a c-section after an ultrasound indicated her baby might be over 9 pounds. Hours later, after what she considers an "unnecessary c-section," her daughter was born weighing barely 6 pounds.

On the other hand, a friend was allowed to go a full week past her due date with the idea that her small (read: 6-ish pounds) baby needed more time to fatten up. When he arrived, he was well over the 9 pound mark.

Anecdotal evidence aside, I wasn't surprised when a friend posted the link to an article indicating how rarely ultrasounds accurately predict a baby's size.

I've always known that guessing a baby's weight is an art, not a science. I imagine doctors take into account the birth weight and current size of each parent, plus the size and weight gain of the mother and the growth pattern of the baby so far.

For the record, I was long (21.5") and lean (5 pounds, 4 ounces), born four full weeks early. Bradley was just as long and born full term, right around 9 pounds.

Mac was born on his own schedule, fully cooked - and I'm so thankful for that. I'm also beyond thankful that his delivery day wasn't affected, either through a recommended c-section or in any other way, by an inaccurate weight guess.

This isn't intended to be a preachy post, just a reminder of what we all know: you know your body and your baby best. Ultrasounds can indicate things, but they can't confirm weight down to a tee. Well, not until they invent an itsy-bitsy scale they can plop right under your tummy to determine your bundle's exact weight.

I trust and listen to my doctors, but I also appreciate that they included my and Bradley's thoughts into their determinations. And that most of them didn't treat their pre-delivery guesstimates to be spot-on predictions of what would come to be.

Moms and moms-to-be, have you had any experience with this? Eerily accurate or totally off-base guesses at your little ones' size?


Kristen said...

SO true!! The day before I delivered, I had the same experience: doc felt my belly and told me Wynn was between 7-8 pounds. Really? What a pearl of wisdom! (You know his birth weight was 6 lbs 3 oz, but to be fair, he was also 12 days early. Had he gone another 12 days he probably would have been just around 7.) The point is that "feeling the belly" isn't exactly a scientific method!

Misty said...

Well, on Monday I can tell you if my doctor and nurses are correct. Based on what the doctor has seen, not by ultrasound but just my belly and judging by Jason's and my stature, we are expected to welcome a 9lb baby. Part of me really wonders if that is going to be true or not. Yes, my husband was a 10+lb baby, but I was average at around 8, so we will see. All I know, is that I am ready to meet this little man...and get off bed rest!

The Gaymons said...

Kerri Grace was supposed to be around 7 pounds. Then, as you know, was born as a perfect tiny 5 1/2 pounder!

At the risk of sounding "preachy" myself, don't you think this is why so much should not be determined by ultrasounds? I know of so many cases where the parents were told that their babies wouldn't survive based on an ultrasound, and then their babies were born perfectly healthy. I think we should respect our doctors(after all they did go to Medical School and I did not) but only fully depend on the Ultimate Physician!! How is that for preachy! Amen and Amen!

melissa said...

This is a topic of great interest to me right now as today is my due date and this morning, my doctor engaged in his own guessing at the baby's weight. However, he acknowledged that it was just that - a guess. He said they are not great at predicting the size of babies and that sonograms are not accurate at all. He even shared with me a story about a patient he delivered recently. Her ultrasound the day before she delivered estimated her baby at about 8lbs. Her first baby was 7lbs 10oz. She went on to deliver an 11.5 pound baby! Needless to say, everyone was VERY surprised.

Not sure why he chose to tell a woman at 40 weeks pregnant such a story! :) Anyway, it was a good reminder that my little (or maybe not so little!) one will arrive in her own time, whatever her size may be. The doctor's guess is about 8 and a half pounds, maybe more. We'll see!

Erin said...

I had such a similar experience! Baby D was estimated the day before delivery by ultrasound to be 7 lb 8oz and the next day she was born at 6.08 lbs! It is nice to have a glimpse of what may be to come but often they are off-

PS: so glad to see you blogging more. It makes my day to read it!

Danielle said...

I just happened upon your blog and couldn't agree more. One week before my daughter was born (3.5 wks early) my dr. Estimated her weight to be 5.5 lbs. She was born weighing over 7! I have a good friend who was induced at 38.5 wks because her dr. Claimed the baby was already close to 9 lbs. After 2 days of failed induction and no progress, she was forced to have a c-section and her son weighed 8 lbs. Talk about a lot of "unnecessaries" going on. I am a firm believer that the baby will come out when the baby is ready. Your body totally knows what to do and forcing labor to start in cases where the mother/ baby are not in any danger, in my opinion, is wrong. Great post!


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