Tuesday, October 19, 2010

"That Wasn't To Blame"

On twitter a few months ago, one of my friends linked to an article summarizing a new study that has been done showing that birth weights of babies has gone down since 2005 and hasn’t continued to grow like it has yearly.
The article is HERE
What amazed me most about this article is that they took information from birth certificates and didn’t actually follow anyone or find out special cases of birth or anything.

The study found that the birth weights of term infants (anywhere from 37 weeks to 42 weeks gestation) has gone down a slight bit. It is now under seven and a half pounds as average for babies born at term instead of the over eight pounds it was in 2005.
The study also found that full term pregnancy is two and a half days less than it was before. They don’t say exactly how long they have found pregnancy to be, but they did talk about inductions and cesareans and how they are absolutely “not to blame”.
Here is my one problem with this.
50 years ago, you were given a due month, not a due date. Now, all women see is this magical date that their child is supposed to arrive before, and if the babe is not here by then, it is “overdue”. (That is a topic in and of itself).
Now that you are given a due date, and most doctors and some midwives will not let a woman go over 41 weeks (and some won’t let you go over 40 weeks), the average length of pregnancy has shortened. Whereas a first time mom was shown to go into labor by 41 weeks 5 days, and a second or more time mom would labor by 40 weeks 5 days, now all pregnancy is an average of 39 weeks.
How are early inductions and scheduled cesareans not to blame for this?
I know it is controversial, and I don’t really care. We have a cesarean rate of almost 32% now. One in three women walk into the hospital and walk out with a cut uterus. THIS IS NOT NORMAL.
In some places, almost as much as 50% of women are induced because their body “doesn’t know how to start labor and needed help”. Your risk of having a cesarean increases tremendously when you have an induction or even augmentation of your labor.
Babies are being born before they are ready. The cesarean rate shows that well enough, as does this new birth weight study.
If the average age of pregnancy is now 39 weeks, what is more to blame? Healthy women (which won’t labor before their body is ready unless there is a problem) or doctors that want to control a completely normal process?
Even though this study says that inductions and cesareans aren’t to blame for the weight drop, how could they not be? And how could they know it isn’t to blame when they are just taking information from birth certificates?
Definitely food for thought….


Jenn @ Connected Mom said... [Reply to comment]

I absolutely believe that cesareans and inductions have given us an artificial idea of what the ideal birth weight should be. I don't think a 7 lb baby is actually the biological norm for a full-term mother, but we've lost track of what a baby is supposed to weigh because we are interfering with the natural process of birth and trying to control it.

Tara said... [Reply to comment]

Wow!! This totally ties in with an article that I read today: "Lobbying grows for the 10-month baby http://t.co/3WXLp2k". Very interesting read... I think that doctors often just want to group every woman together and say "this is your due date", when every woman has a different gestational time.

I totally agree with your thoughts... I gave birth to my first, 6 months ago. Sadly it was a c-section... I was hoping for a natural birth, but my little guy turned breech at 34 wks. I DID NOT want a c-section, and was so relieved that my midwife gave me the option of delivering vaginally and helped me find a doctor willing to do so (only 2 in my province!). However, here they only allow you to go 10 days overdue when delivering a breech. My little guy did not want to come out!! I started having contractions the night before my c-section. :( He probably would have come out on his own that day or the next. He was a healthy 9 lbs 6 oz, 23 1/4 inches! Can't imagine that a 7 lb baby would be "the norm"...

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