What Is the Ideal Baby Weight at Birth?

Bringing new life to this world is always a joyful thing. The moment you see your precious baby, you would have this felling that everything you suffered in your pregnancy is worthwhile. Besides the joys, there're some concerns. And birth weight is one of them. With birth weight, every baby is different. Some babies were born heavier while some other lighter. Would this be a problem?

What Is the Ideal Baby Weight at Birth?

The average baby weight at birth is about 7.5 pounds, but anything between 5.5 and 10 pounds is considered normal too. Your baby has a low birth weight if he/she weighs less than 5 pounds. If your baby's weight at birth is more than 8 pounds, he/she is larger than normal and is referred to as macrosomia. In most cases, a baby who is heavier or lighter than the average baby is perfectly fine, but the healthcare providers may pay more attention to these babies just to ensure that there are no problems.

Factors That Affect Baby Weight at Birth

To know more about the ideal baby weight at birth, it is important to understand a bit about the factors that affect baby weight in general. The length of your pregnancy will play a big role here, but other things matter too. For instance:

  • Size of Parents: Tall parents are more likely to have larger-than average newborns, whereas short and petite parents usually have smaller-than-average newborns.
  • Birth Order: In most cases, first babies tend to be smaller as compared to babies born later.
  • Multiple Births: Your babies are more likely to be small if you have twins or multiples, which is mainly because the babies have to share growing space and often born prematurely.
  • Gender: Boys tend to be larger, whereas girls are usually smaller. The difference is not huge though.
  • Mother's Health: The health of the mother during pregnancy also determines the baby's weight at birth. A lower birth weight may be the result of a mother having heart problems or blood pressure. Women who smoke or drink alcohol during pregnancy may have babies smaller than normal. The baby may have a higher birth weight if the mother is obese or has diabetes.
  • Nutrition: What you eat during pregnancy will also determine how healthy your baby turns out to be. Good nutrition is important for your baby's growth. You may give birth to a baby larger than normal if you gain too much weight during pregnancy.

What If Your Baby Has Low Birth Weight?

It is obvious to feel concerned when your baby is less than what is considered ideal baby weight at birth. You do not always need to worry because so many things can lead to low birth weight. However, if your baby has low birth weight because he/she was born prematurely, this may lead to certain problems. Such babies may have low blood sugar and too many red blood cells. They may have breathing problems along with difficulty keeping warm.

Many people believe that low-birth-weight babies tend to have lower intelligence and do poorly at school. This is not always the case though and you cannot predict if your baby will perform well at school or have mental or behavioral problems. What causes low-birth-weight will determine how healthy your baby will be as a child.

What Moms Can Do

Some experts are of the view that low-birth-weight babies are more likely to have heart disease and diabetes. This is true to some extent, but you can certainly take some steps to manage things better. For instance:

  • Pay special attention to breastfeeding because this will help your baby grow and stay healthy. Be sure to breastfeed your baby for at least six months after birth.
  • Ensure that your baby has all development and growth check-ups because this lets your doctor to catch problems early and treat them properly.
  • Stick to a nutritious diet, especially after your baby turns six months old. Ask your doctor for assistance.

What If Your Baby Is Large?

It is quite possible to give birth to a big baby vaginally. Almost two thirds of babies heavier than 4.5kg are born vaginally, but it can be very difficult for the mother. Labor will be quite painful and you may even require an assisted birth, which is usually the case for one in five mothers delivering big babies vaginally. There may be other complications too, such as an increased risk of bleeding after the delivery and a severe perineal tear. You may experience fewer complications if you have had uncomplicated deliveries in the past.

For babies heavier than 4.5kg, there is a one in 13 chance that they will experience shoulder dystocia. It increases to a one in seven chance for babies with body weight above than 5kg. This means that your baby's shoulder may become stuck at the time of delivery. It can cause serious complications and requires immediate attention from a healthcare provider.

Problems Associated with Big Babies

Most big babies face no serious problems, but shoulder dystocia during birth can cause complications. In some cases, this leads to serious damage to the nerves in the shoulder of your baby. About 2-16% of babies with shoulder dystocia end up having nerve damage. This usually happens when your baby is very big and requires a lot of help being born. You do not have to worry about minor nerve damage because it resolves with time. Some babies may have a broken collarbone during the birth, but that also heals without problems.