Photo by Faith Ninivaggi
It's no secret around our humble little office that I am a big fan of chubby babies. Could there be anything cuter than dimpled arms and thigh rolls that go on forever? So squishable. So huggable. So lovable. Starting at 36 weeks pregnant, resident OBs began pressuring me to induce... Knowing that no induction is normal, I held out to let my son come into this world in his own perfect timing (at 44 weeks, 1 day) and he weighed in at 10lbs 3.2oz.
Biased, yes, but I thought he was perfect - and he seemed a bit less 'breakable' too. We were, however, an anomaly of sorts at the hospital that weekend when everyone had to come in to see "one of the biggest babies we've ever had." So I know a little of how Amanda Byron, 21, must have felt this past weekend when she gave birth to her 13lb, 2.6oz son at Holy Family Hospital in Methuen, near Boston, Massachusetts.
After just 4 hours of labor and 10 minutes of pushing, Byron naturally birthed her first baby - Jonathan Patrick Rozzi. Her doctor had 'warned' Byron to expect a big baby (ultrasound estimations can be off by as much as 4 pounds in either direction, but they suggested a 9lb baby). Still, birth was not as tough as Byron thought it would be. She told The Boston Herald, "Everyone's asking me, 'How did you do it?' It wasn't as much pain as I thought it would be. So I just smile and shrug."
Sounds a little like the way birth is supposed to be... blissful. And babies grow to fit their mommas. A perfect plan all around.
Byron continues, "The nurses were all so surprised at his size. I was told the last big baby was 12 pounds, but that was a c-section. The doctor said [Jonathan is] the biggest she’s delivered naturally."
Just as I had no idea that my chunky 10-pounder was a baby to behold, Byron said that when she found her son weighed 13lbs, "I didn't realize how big a deal this was until everyone started taking pictures."
The largest baby I know of in our area (born naturally, at home, in water) was 14lbs. And born to a petite momma, with no complications. Countless other (healthy) homebirths in our city have brought forth 12lb babies. And when you talk with midwives, most will tell you that the average homebirthed baby is heavier than the average hospital-birthed baby. I have a sneaking suspicion this has something to do with the current state of birth in the United States. (1-4) If we had less unnecessary induction (read: no artificial induction unless the life of mom or baby was at risk) and less elective surgical birth, would we see a slight shift upwards in terms of average baby weight? Six to seven pounds seems terribly small for an average baby. This means there are many who are below that light weight at birth. [The largest baby on record, in case you are curious, was born to a mother in Italy in 1955 and weighed 22lbs, 8 oz.]
Byron's pregnancy was healthy and uneventful. "They don't know why he's so big. I had a normal, well-balanced diet - avoided caffeine and sodas." Neither she nor her fiance, Eric Rozzi, come from families with atypically large babies.
I'm hoping Jonathan was spared any unnecessary pain, pokes, and prodding (not to mention surgical cutting) because when my own "big baby boy" was born I had to almost forcibly stop nursing staff from continuing to heel prick and test his blood. Jonathan, like my son, is deemed to be in perfect health - no sugar anomalies, no metabolic concerns - just a big healthy guy.
“He cried when he came out, but for the most part he’s a quiet baby. Definitely a cuddler! So far he’s eating a normal amount of food, but I got a lot of support from family. I’m looking forward to motherhood!" said Byron.
Welcome to mothering, Amanda! ❤
1) Block, Jennifer (2008) Pushed: The Painful Truth About Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care
2) Buckley, Sarah J., M.D. (2008) Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering: A Doctor's Guide to Natural Childbirth and Gentle Early Parenting Choices
3) Odent, Michel, M.D. (2008) Birth and Breastfeeding: Rediscovering the Needs of Women During Pregnancy and Childbirth
3) Wagner, Marsden, M.D., M.S. (2008) Born in the USA: How a Broken Maternity System Must Be Fixed to Put Women and Children First