Sunday, 18 March 2012

Factors affecting a baby's birth weight

Healthy newborn babies usually weigh between 6 and 9 pounds (2700 to 4000 grams). If the pregnancy has been normal, but the baby's weight varies slightly from the average, he will be checked carefully right after birth by the medical staff, but chances are that there are no problems.

A normal pregnancy lasts from 37 to 40 weeks. A child born past his due date will probably be heavier and those who come a little early may be lighter.

Besides the length of pregnancy, there are other factors which affect a baby's birth weight. Among them are:

* The baby's health. If the baby has a medical problem, such as a birth defect, or an infection, it can negatively affect his growth in the uterus and his subsequent birth weight.

* The size of the parents. If either or both parents are tall and/or large-boned, the baby may be taller and/or heavier than average. At birth, a baby is usually about 20 inches (51 centimeters) long.

A mother who was underweight when she became pregnant may produce a baby whose birth weight is lower than average. Every woman should gain at least 22 pounds (10 kilograms) during pregnancy.

Most women of average height and weight will gain 37 to 54 pounds (17-25 kilograms) from the date of conception until the baby's birth. This is normal and quite acceptable.

* Gender. Newborn girls tend to be smaller than newborn boys.

* Multiple births. A mother who gives birth to twins, triplets or more can expect to have smaller babies, because they must share limited space within her womb. Also, multiple births often occur early, so the babies may be premature as well. Usually, this is not a cause for concern; they will catch up later.

* The mother's nutrition during pregnancy. Eating a balanced diet is essential for a pregnant woman and her growing child. There should be lots of fruit and vegetables included but very little junk food. The doctor will prescribe a suitable prenatal vitamin and mineral supplement. He is also a reliable resource for guidelines to a healthy eating regimen if the mother wants advice in this area.

* Birth Order. First babies are often lighter than their later-born siblings, who tend to become progressively heavier.

* The mother's age. Women under 20 and over 45 are more likely to have babies with low birth weights.

* Maternal health. A pregnant woman must not smoke or be exposed to second-hand smoke. She must not drink alcohol or take any drugs other than those prescribed by her doctor.

The father's help and cooperation during these nine months are essential. The responsibility of being a male parent doesn't just start when the baby is born. It begins from the moment of conception. During his wife's pregnancy, he cares for his child by looking after his wife.

Her environment should kept be as stress-free, cheerful, and relaxed as possible. She will need plenty of rest along with support and encouragement as her shape and agility undergo major changes. Regular, gentle exercise such as going for walks is good for both the mother and the developing child.

The mother needs to monitored closely by a doctor or midwife during pregnancy to safeguard her own health and to ensure the birth of a healthy baby with normal birth weight. If she develops high blood pressure or heart problems, the baby's weight could be negatively affected. If she has diabetes, and it is not controlled, the baby may gain too much weight.

Babies whose birth weights fall within normal range have the best start in life. Achieving this important advantage requires the combined effort of the mother, the father and the medical professionals.

Babies are the future, the future of our families, our community, our country and our planet. No one could find a more noble project than giving each of them the best start in life possible.

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