In late January, a Russian mother was recovering in the hospital after giving birth to a baby who weighed nearly 14 pounds.
And she did so without any pain medication!
The 42-year-old, who is now the mother of five children, gave birth in the small southwestern Russian town of Dagestankiye Ogni.
She gave birth naturally, and without any medical intervention, at home.
Woman Gives Birth To Giant Baby Naturally And Without Pain Medication
The big newborn tipped the scales at a giant 13 pounds 14 ounces (6.27 kilograms).
Although the baby wasn’t the largest ever born, many were surprised to hear the mother gave birth without medical intervention.
The largest ever newborn to survive infancy was born to an Italian mother in 1955. The baby tipped the scales at over 22 pounds (9.9kgs).
In the recent case, a spokesperson for the hospital said, “Of course this is overweight, this is a pathology. According to the medical team, the baby has problems with hearing. Other problems may occur in the future”.
How Can A Newborn Weigh So Much?
There are many factors that determine a baby’s weight. They include: genetics, maternal health conditions (e.g. gestational diabetes or type 1 diabetes), maternal age and pre-pregnancy weight.
While the hospital didn’t release any information regarding the potential causes for this newborn’s larger than average size, some Internet commenters mentioned gestational diabetes could be the culprit.
BellyBelly contributor, and women’s health and reproductive specialist, Dr. Andrew Orr, says:
“Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is defined as any degree of glucose intolerance with onset or first recognition during pregnancy. Untreated gestational diabetes can lead to fetal macrosomia (big baby), hypoglycaemia, hypocalcaemia, and hyperbilirubinaemia. In addition, mothers with GDM have increased rates of induction of labour, c-section and chronic hypertension”.
This mother possibly had undiagnosed or unmanaged gestational diabetes, or other medical conditions which contributed to the baby’s size.
Why Wasn’t The Baby Born Via C-Section?
There’s a common misconception any baby over a certain weight and born vaginally poses a serious risk. Although a larger baby can increase the chance of birth complications, there’s no set weight at which a vaginal birth becomes inherently dangerous.
In fact, some smaller babies experience complications while some larger babies can be born vaginally without problems.
Every mother-baby pair is unique and current research doesn’t necessarily support a c-section as being safer for all large babies.
We aren’t aware of the current health condition of the mother in this case, so we can’t say whether or not this was the safest birth for this baby. However, many women have given birth vaginally to large babies without complications.
There is a common fear a large baby might become stuck. You might be surprised to learn it is not a common occurrence; neither is there evidence to support routine induction or scheduled c-section, based solely on a suspected large baby.
In fact, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) doesn’t recommend routinely scheduling births based on size.
According to research, surprise macrosomia (large baby) has fewer interventions than when it’s suspected prenatally. This can lead to fewer risks associated with interventions. Of course, knowing baby is measuring larger than average might lead to prenatal care and education that look at potential causes (Gestational Diabetes, for example), and efforts to help control it better.
Research on how best to handle potential macrosomia is ongoing.
You can read more about large babies in Macrosomia – 5 Myths About Big Babies and Birth.
How Can A Mother Give Birth To A Big Baby Without Pain Medication?
Bigger babies must be more painful to birth, right?
Actually, not necessarily. There are many factors which contribute to the intensity of discomfort or pain a mother might feel during childbirth. Although size can play a role in some situations, it’s certainly not the only or the most significant factor in many cases.
BellyBelly contributor, doula and childbirth educator, Sam McCulloch, wrote:
“In 2010 I gave birth to my third baby at home, after a 90-minute labour.
“The speedy labour wasn’t a surprise, as I’d previously experienced that with my second baby. What was a surprise was my baby’s weight. After previously giving birth to average sized babies of 3.5kg (7.7lbs) and 3.2 kgs (7lbs), I was more than a little shocked to see the number on the scale creep up to 5kgs (11lbs)”.
Why wasn’t her birth longer, more painful or impossible out of hospital? There are many potential reasons.
Perhaps ignorance was bliss in her case. Her midwifery style prenatal care hadn’t included a series of growth scans that attempted to guess baby’s weight. She wasn’t expecting a much larger baby, so she didn’t have increased fear.
Babies come in many shapes and sizes, as do mothers. Their weight doesn’t necessarily mean more pain during birth.
The position of mama during birth, the environment, and the type of support she has are just as likely to influence the level of pain or discomfort during labour as the baby’s size.
I had had four out-of-hospital unmedicated births by the time I was ready to give birth to my youngest baby. Much to my surprise, and the surprise of others in the room, the birth of my premature 31-week, 4 pound 0.4 oz (1.8kg) daughter was extremely painful, compared with my previous births of nearly 8 pound (3.5kg) babies.
During her birth, I was restricted to bed (for genuine medical reasons), I was in an uncomfortable environment, and she also had a problem with her head shape. Having a baby that weighed significantly less didn’t make for an easier labour.
You can learn more about baby’s size and pain by reading Giving Birth To A Big Baby – 5 Reasons Why It Doesn’t Mean It Will Hurt More.
Are There Risks In Having A Large Baby?
Generally, our bodies grow babies we’re able to birth. Occasionally, nature doesn’t work out perfectly. And sometimes our diets and other factors interfere with nature.
If a mother is otherwise healthy and doesn’t have uncontrolled gestational diabetes (or complications from type 1 or type 2 diabetes), a large baby can simply be the norm for that mother-baby pair, and not an indication of any health concerns for either.
In the situation of uncontrolled gestational or type 2 diabetes (or complications from type 1), a large baby is sometimes not what nature intended. In these situations, risks during birth might be increased. There can also be increased health risks for the baby.
Babies born to mothers with poorly controlled gestational diabetes are at increased risk for:
- Macrosomia – large birth weight
- Preterm birth
- Respiratory distress syndrome
- Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
- Developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
Babies born to mothers with uncontrolled gestational diabetes might struggle with the initial transition after birth, but many adjust well.
However, it might be important to have close follow up with their paediatricians to manage any potential ongoing problems, and help reduce the associated risk of developing type 2 diabetes when they’re older.