Most babies grow at a certain rate during the pregnancy, with much of the baby’s final weight growth in the latter part of pregnancy. During prenatal care, the obstetrician should monitor the increase in the size of the uterus in relation to the mother’s weight gain to confirm that the baby is growing normally. When there are any questions, the obstetrician should obtain an ultrasound to more accurately assess the size and weight of the baby to determine if the growth rate is normal or abnormal. When abnormal growth occurs, a diagnosis of intrauterine growth retardation is made, and while many small babies can be delivered without any problem or long-term consequences, smaller-than-normal babies usually occur as a result of smaller-than-normal placentas. As a result, such abnormally small babies are often not able to withstand the normal pressures of labor and delivery, and when a baby is known to be abnormally small, the obstetrician should anticipate an earlier decision to stop labor, and delivery the baby by cesarean section in order to prevent any significant hypoxia in the baby, which could have long- term consequences to the baby and family.
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