What A Baby’s Birth Weight Really Tells You

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One question that frequently comes up as soon as you give birth to your baby is ‘How much does your baby weigh?’ Parents of newborns are tired of answering this question to relatives, friends, and even complete strangers. So, why the obsession with the baby’s weight? 

Newborns’ birth weight is supposedly an indicator of their health. A tiny newborn could be healthy, happy, and smiling while a normal-sized baby could be born with a host of complications. It can be tough to understand how healthy a baby is based on their weight. But fret not, here are a few things that can give you some idea on your baby’s weight and what it indicates about their health.

Babies With Low Birth Weight

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Babies who weigh lower than 5 pounds and 8 ounces are said to have low birth weight. Though 8 pounds is considered to be the average weight of a newborn, babies with low birth weight can be healthy. However, it could also mean a series of health issues (1).

Causes: Premature babies are most commonly found to be on the side of low birth weight. Since a preemie spends less time in the mother’s womb, he/she won’t have enough time to grow and develop properly as the last few weeks play a crucial role in the baby’s weight gain. Another reason that causes low birth weight is intrauterine growth restriction.

How To Identify If Your Baby Has Low Birth Weight?

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Besides checking the baby’s weight, there are a few other signs that help you identify if your baby has low birth weight (2):

  • Baby will look comparatively smaller than a normal weight baby
  • They will be thin with less body fat
  • Their head might be bigger when compared to the rest of the body

Common Problems Faced By Babies With Low Birth Weight

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Low birth weight babies will find it hard to stay warm as they have very little body fat. They may also struggle to gain weight or fight off infections. Here are a few other complications (3):

  • Breathing difficulties
  • Digestive issues
  • Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Developmental delay

Should I Be Concerned If My Baby Is Big?

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Having a large baby might put both the mother and the baby at risk. In such cases, your doctor might recommend a C-section to avoid the risk of shoulder dystocia. Though babies with chubby cheeks and lots of fat are generally considered as cute and healthy, they may be running the risk of some additional problems (4).

Babies who are born to women with gestational diabetes may need a longer hospital stay so that doctors can keep a check on their blood sugar levels. They may also require extra feedings and IV glucose to keep their sugar levels from dropping too low (5).

Large newborns may have other problems such as traumatic birth injuries, jaundice, metabolic abnormalities, elevated hemoglobin levels, and other congenital abnormalities.

Factors That Increases The Possibility Of Large Babies

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Several factors could result in giving birth to a large baby. Below are the factors that increase the likelihood of delivering a large baby (6):

  • If the mother is overweight
  • Pregnancy weight gain
  • The ethnicity of the mother
  • Gestation diabetes before or during pregnancy
  • A pregnancy that goes beyond the normal 42 weeks

Babies can be born small, big or normal-sized at birth. And from the above information, we know that that are several factors that determine the weight of your newborn. Being small at birth doesn’t mean they will grow up to be thin and malnourished even as they grow into adults. Similarly, large babies necessarily won’t grow up to be obese adults. However, taking care of your diet and nutrition and following your doctor’s advice is what will help you to make sure that your baby stays healthy before and after birth.

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