can my baby be too big for my pelvis?

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I frequently get questions in the comment section of my article, cervical dilation 101, frequently asked questions. Every once in awhile, a question comes up that doesn’t have a simple, short answer so I’ll write a new article. The following comes from a pregnant reader:

Just an update,
I went to the doctor today, I am 38 weeks and 3 days. I am 3 cm dilated and 70% effaced. My cervix is still posterior, but the baby is head down and -2. My blood pressure has been slightly elevated the last 2 weeks and the doctor thinks the baby weighs around 7 pounds. He is also concerned that I could need a c-section because I have a small pelvis. All this in account we are inducing labor Thurs morning. Do you think it could be a long labor? Or could it be pretty quick given I am already 3 cm and this is my second child?

Thanks for all of your help, Christina

Dear Christina, Your pelvis is not too small. You do not need a c-section. A doctor has absolutely NO business telling a woman her pelvis is too small before she is even in labor and tries to push the baby out. (did you have a c-section for your first baby?) Your pelvis is not fixed in place. Hormones right now are working on softening the ligaments, loosening your pelvis so that it may move and widen and change shape to accommodate your baby. And your baby’s head is not hard and fixed in place either. Your baby’s skull has plates that move and mold to fit through your pelvis. These are the baby’s soft spots. This is why some babies are born with pointy heads; their heads have merely changed shape so they can be born and will quickly regain a more normal shape within hours. Please just be confident in your ability to birth your baby! Put the word c-section out of your head. There is a huge mind and body connection when it comes to labor. If you believe that you can’t birth your baby, or if your doctor’s words are in the back of your mind, then it might come true.

Also, why are you being induced in a couple days? High blood pressure, out-of-control blood pressure is definitely a valid reason for induction, but in your words, yours is “slightly elevated.” Although many doctors are quick to induce, most wait until the due date unless there is a medical reason and you still have a week to go. I hate to say this, but is your doc going on vacation? Sometimes, a doctor will induce his patients so they’ll give birth while he’s still in town and so that he will get paid for the births (rather than whoever is on call for him while he’s gone). He is getting you used to the idea of having surgery just in case you don’t have your baby before he wants to leave in the morning. He has already told you that you might need a c-section. He’ll have the induction started in the wee hours of the A.M. and be checking in periodically throughout the day with the nursing staff. He’ll go home for dinner and then come back and say you’re not progressing or your baby is just too big for your body so it looks like you need surgery after all.

Now having said this, this may not be the reality in your case, but you should consider it. Ask your doctor, why are you inducing me? What happens if we don’t induce this Thursday as planned?

To answer your question as to how long the induction may take, like I tell everyone, I have no idea! There is no magic formula that says a woman dilates 1 cm an hour even though some OBs like to tell us that’s the way it should happen. Read my article, what does being 2 centimeters dilated mean?

You are 3cm dilated and 70% effaced. With these numbers, a pitocin induction will most likely be successful and lead to a vaginal birth if given enough time. If your body and baby are ready for labor, you could have your baby in only a few hours or it could take all day. You also said the baby is at -2 station so your baby is still floating and very high.

Zero station is “engaged” or “dropped” where your baby’s head is fixed in your pelvis and not going anywhere. But at -2 station, your baby is still “floating.” It is common to break your water during an induction. Please know that if they break your water , called artificial rupture of membranes (AROM) before the baby is at 0 station or lower, then there is the danger of cord prolapse. This is a dangerous situation because the head will compress the cord, cutting off the baby’s oxygen supply. You do not want that to happen. So if you do get induced and if they talk about breaking your water, be sure that your baby has come down to at least 0 station.

To sum up, just trust in your ability to give birth! You can do it. To answer the question posed in the title of this article,

“Can my baby be too big for my pelvis?” Watch this inspiring video for the answer.

The answer is probably not! Be inspired by the pygmy women in Africa who are only 4 feet tall. Gloria Lemay writes for Midwifery Today that the average weight of their infants is eight pounds. In relative terms, this is like a woman five feet six giving birth to a fourteen-pound baby.

Birthing Blessings, Guinever