From Tiny Babies to Big Babies

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The following is a guest post. The opinions are those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect those of this site. 

When Trisha got pregnant, she practically freaked out. She didn’t know what to do. She didn’t know what to eat, how to take care of herself, or what prenatal vitamins to take. She didn’t know if she should keep working. She was a mess.

Trisha really counted on help every step of the way during her first pregnancy. I got a phone call one night from her: she was crying she barely understandable. Her cravings had gotten so bad she was craving her shampoo. She didn’t know why she had this craving. She didn’t eat it, but she was completely freaked out because she really wanted to.

Some women crave strange things during their pregnancies, but Trisha knew this one was one of the strangest. Some shampoos have a type of clay in them that contains a nutrient your body could be lacking, which brings about the craving for the shampoo. For example: if your body is craving calcium you could be craving ice cream, cheese, or milk.

Trisha didn’t know anything when it came to having children, she didn’t know what it was like to be pregnant. She now has a happy healthy beautiful 6-year-old girl with a baby boy on the way.

She is grateful for my help, especially when she learned about low birth weight. Since she was a tiny baby, she wanted to make sure she would have a healthy baby that didn’t have a need to stay in the hospital after the baby was born.

Helping Trisha find the information she needed to avoid a low birth weight was the easy part—there is a lot of information on pregnancy health out there. The hard part was taking care of herself, so she could take care of her baby before it was born to ensure a proper birth weight.

Low Birth Weight

Low birthweight is a term used to describe babies who are born weighing less than 1,500 grams (3 pounds, 4 ounces); only 1.5%, are born this tiny. However, the overall rate of very low birthweight babies in the U.S. is increasing. This is primarily due to greater numbers of multiple birth babies who are more likely to be born early and weigh less.

Babies with very low birthweight look much smaller than other babies of normal birth weight. A very low birthweight baby’s head usually appears to be bigger than the rest of the body and he or she often looks extremely thin, with little body fat. The skin is often quite transparent, allowing the blood vessels to be easily seen.

The primary cause of low birthweight is premature birth, meaning that the baby is born before the 37-week mark. Being born early means a baby has less time in the mother’s uterus to grow and gain weight, and much of a baby’s weight is gained during the last part of pregnancy.

That being said, some reasons for low birth weight just can’t be avoided. Parents who are shorter and weigh less than average may have smaller children. Babies who are of Indian, Asian or black-ethnic origin are generally born smaller.

Reasons for Low Birth Weight

The reasons for a baby having low birth weight can range quote a bit. Some of the more common reasons are:

  • Problems with the way your baby is developing.
  • An infection that’s been left untreated during pregnancy.
  • An infection in the womb.
  • Trouble with the flow of nutrients and oxygen from the placenta to your baby.
  • Expecting multiple babies.
  • Carrying more than one baby increases your risk of high blood pressure, pre-eclampsia,
  • Anemia and diabetes, all of which are associated with growth problems in babies.
  • Suffering from health or emotional problems or have a stressful home life.

Why is Low Birth Weight A Concern?

The main concerns of a baby with low birthweight is that the baby may be at increased risk for complications. The baby’s tiny body is not as strong as it should be and he or she may have a harder time eating, gaining weight, and fighting off infections. Because they have so little body fat, low birthweight babies often have difficulty staying warm in normal temperatures.

Because many babies with low birthweight are also premature, it can be difficult to identify the problems that are due to being premature from the problems of just being so tiny.

Problems from Low Birth Rate

Nevertheless, there are still problems that are obvious to point out from low birth weight babies, such as:

  • Low oxygen levels at birth
  • Unable to maintain body temperature
  • Difficulty gaining weight
  • Infection
  • Breathing problems
  • Bleeding of the brain
  • And other serious diseases

Preventing Low Birth Weight

Because of the tremendous advances in the care of sick and premature babies, more and more babies are surviving despite being born early and very small. However, prevention of preterm births is one of the best ways to prevent babies born with low birthweight. There are a few things you can do to help you avoid having a preterm or low weight baby at birth.

Get A Health Care Provider  

It’s important to get prenatal care from a doctor, such as an OB/GYN, to ensure that you                                                         and your baby are healthy throughout the pregnancy. Women who don’t get adequate prenatal care are more likely to have low birth-weight babies of poor health than those who see doctors regularly. Prenatal healthcare involves seeing a doctor once a month for the first six months, twice monthly during the 7th and 8th months, then weekly thereafter.              

Stay Hydrated

Drinking plenty of fluids during pregnancy to keep the body well hydrated as the mother’s blood volume increases for supporting the two of you. It also helps prevent fatigue, constipation, and preterm labor.

Maintain a Healthy Diet

More than ever, you need to eat a healthy diet to keep you and the baby healthy and strong. It’s highly recommended to eat foods that are protein-rich such as meat, eggs and fish, whole grains, dairy products like yogurt and milk, fruits such as apples and grapefruit, and vegetables such as leafy greens, carrots, and broccoli.

Change Your Lifestyle

Quit smoking and stop drinking alcohol. Studies show that tobacco and alcohol have serious negative effects on a baby’s growth and development during pregnancy and even during childhood. Also, reduce your coffee intake to one cup a day; caffeine may increase chances of miscarriage and other complications of pregnancy.

Vitamins and Nutrients

Boost your nutrition by including various fruits and vegetables to your diet, as well as fish like salmon, and snacks like yogurt and walnuts. However, a healthy diet alone is not enough. To guarantee enough nutrients for you and the baby, you’ll need the help of some prenatal supplements. Supplements like folic acid, Omega 3’s, and other prenatal multivitamins will be of great help for your pregnancy and delivery as well as your baby’s health.

These basic tips will help you maintain a healthy birth weight, but the best and most effective way is to see your doctor. There is no doubt that your doctor will design a plan of action catered to your needs if your baby is at risk for low birth rate.

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