‘Duck Dynasty’ star Sadie Robertson’s baby is a ‘chunky little miracle.’ What counts as a big baby these days? Doctors weigh in.

·3-min read
Sadie Robertson and Christian Huff welcomed their first baby in May 2021. (Photo: Paul Archuleta/Getty Images)
Sadie Robertson and Christian Huff welcomed their first baby in May 2021. (Photo: Paul Archuleta/Getty Images)

Duck Dynasty star Sadie Robertson and husband Christian Huff recently welcomed their first baby, a "chunky miracle" named Honey James.

The 23-year-old reality star shared a photo of her daughter, born May 11, with the caption: "Good morning world!!! I thought you could use 9 pounds and 5 ounces of straight up goodness." Commenters fawned over the precious tot writing, "Whoa. You deserve two push prizes for all that cuteness!!" and "Are you telling me you pushed out a whole 9-pound baby?! My lady bits hurt just thinking about it." And many recalled their own experiences birthing "big" babies."

With their cherubic cheeks and irresistible rolls, what is a big baby? Newborns weighing above nine pounds are generally considered big, says Dr. Aaron B. Caughey, a professor and chair of obstetrics and gynecology at Oregon Health & Science University, however weight is relative. "If two professional basketball players have a 10-pound newborn, that size may be right for them," he tells Yahoo Life. "Whereas if a shorter man and woman have a 10-pound baby, that would be considered on the bigger side. So there's a lot of nuance and overall, we're seeing a greater spread of the distribution, both small and big babies. 

According to a January 2020 study from the University of Colorado, Boulder that analyzed 23 million single births to healthy mothers from 1990 to 2013, the average birth weight declined from 7.30 pounds to 7.15 pounds, which researchers associate with increasing medical interventions like cesarean births (surgical procedures that remove babies through their mother's abdomen) and inductions (when doctors stimulate uterine contractions to activate the labor process). 

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The researchers observed ballooning rates of obstetric intervention: The incidence of C-sections increased from 25 percent to 31.2 percent, particularly among women in their 37 to 39th weeks of pregnancy while inductions grew from 12 percent of births to 29 percent. 

Through a simulation experiment, “We found that the decline in birth weight would not have happened if it were not for the rapid increase in these obstetric interventions,” study co-author Andrea Tilstra, a PhD candidate in the department of sociology, said in a press release. “In fact, birth weights would have gone up.” As the press release read, "About 18 percent of births in 2013 would have happened later, via a vaginal delivery that was not induced, had they occurred in 1990." The study authors were not immediately available for comment when asked by Yahoo Life. 

Caughey explains the "complicated" rise in birth intervention: "It could reflect the various ways in which doctors and patient have relationships," he says noting that in the homestretch of pregnancy, physical discomfort and weekly prenatal appointments could breed excited impatience for the big day. "37 weeks is historically considered full term, but 37 is not quite as good as 38 or 39 weeks" in terms of lung maturation and stillborn rates. Caughey says most infants born before 39 weeks are perfectly healthy however he recommends that women with high-risk pregnancies consult their healthcare providers on birthing plans. 

A second reason babies are born on the small side: "Skyrocketing maternal obesity rates since the early 1990s," says Caughey, referring to a woman's weight before and during pregnancy. "Those rates have increased from about 10 to 15 percent to about 30 to 35 percent and can cause babies to be born both large and small."

However, all babies, no matter their size or shape, are squish-ably adorable, a quality scientists say is essential to survival and why we can't put them down.      

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