At least where babies are concerned, bigger isn't always better.
On Jan. 30, the Associated Press reported that an expecting mother in Des Moines, Iowa gave birth to a boy weighing in at 13 pounds and 13 ounces. Though only a tenth of 1 percent of all newborns weigh more than 11 pounds at birth, the AP reported, the newborn Asher Stewardson measured 23 1/2 inches long and was delivered without the aid of surgery.
But local maternity nurses agree mothers should be thankful if their newborns can't compete with him - for it could mean complications for both mother and child.
Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec
LPN?Sharon Loomis checks on the vitals of Rayna McClellan, born Wednesday to Amanda (pictured) and Ryan McClellan of Altoona. Rayna is an average size infant, unlike a near 14-pound child who was born recently in Iowa, making national news.
"It isn't always 'big baby means healthy baby,'" said Julie Vitko, the nurse manager of the Maternity and Nursery department at Altoona Regional Health System.
The largest baby she can recall born at Altoona Hospital weighed about 12 1/2 pounds. Babies born big usually indicate that the mother contracted gestational diabetes, which affects 18 percent of pregnancies, according to the American Diabetes Association.
Because this form of diabetes can pose a threat to both mother and child, Vitko said mothers should do what they can to prevent it.
"It's very important that they have prenatal care," she said. "Good prenatal care is just essential."
Larger babies can also cause an "exceedingly difficult" delivery, Vitko said. She said it is tough to imagine the nearly 14 pound baby being delivered vaginally, but it can obviously be done.
Tammy Lemin, the unit director for the maternity ward at UPMC Bedford Memorial Hospital, said delivering larger babies can also result in complications like shoulder dysplasia, when the head comes out and the shoulder gets stuck.
Lemin added that an 11-pound birth is the largest she can remember at the hospital. Less than 2 percent of newborns weigh more than 10 pounds at birth; the average child is around 7 pounds.
Dr. Patrick Fiero, an obstetrician/gynecologist at J.C. Blair Hospital in Huntington, said he really can't imagine delivering a nearly 14-pound baby.
"Whoever it was that delivered that baby had a lot of guts," he said. "I'm sure they sweated it through, and probably didn't realize it'd be that big."
Fiero said it can be hard to estimate fetal weight because an ultrasound can only measure the hard structures of the baby - not the soft structures that contribute to weight.
So when it comes to delivery, it can sometimes be a guessing game as to which method to use.
"The main concern is for the health of the baby," he said. "So you want to do what's right for them."
Mirror Staff Writer Beth Ann Downey is at 946-7520.