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How accurate is external palpation??

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
I know that u/s isn't all that accurate to determine baby size. I know nothing is all that accurte except giving birth.

But how close can they be with external palpation? I can feel this baby and all of his limbs and his head. Some times I can feel the curve of his back and see the outline of feet and hands. But I have no idea what that means in actual size.

I had an ob "estimate" size and she said at 37 weeks and a couple days she estimates baby between 8.5 and 9 pounds. The idea of a big baby does not scare me or even concern me at all. But how accurate is a "guess" like that? Is it any more accurate than a u/s can be. (I know you are just feeling length and limbs and not flesh)

Just a curious question!

I'm on another board and read about 10 posts a day where a women is told to have a c/b for a large baby or an induction or a large baby when the estimate they are given isn't even "avergage" weight. (cause isn't average baby birth weight around 8 10?)
post #2 of 11
Well... with #1 I was concerned about having a large baby (not that I couldn't birth it, just that it would hurt a ton), and I asked my MW's guess. She estimated the weight to be around 8 lbs, and said that she was usually pretty close to accurate. My DS, born about 4 days later, weighed 10 lbs even. He was 22" long. I do think the mother's build (I am very tall, so in relationship to my pelvis, he probably seemed like a normal sized baby), the length of the baby and the size of the head all make a difference in a midwife or doctor's guesses. In my case, my baby had a normal sized head and a giant chest -- he was also a superchub, which you can't really feel by hand, so I can see why the MW guessed what she did.
post #3 of 11
I read somewhere that the accuracy from a mother's guess, a doctor/mw guess through palpitations and an u/s guess are about the same...mostly inaccurate. My mw won't even give me here guess.
post #4 of 11
A well-trained provider can be very accurate (at least as much as any u/s)... my MW thought ds was 8lbs at 42 weeks, when he was born the following day he was 7lb 12oz.

An OB? I wouldn't trust her guess unless she trained with old-school midwives... most OBs and MWs are much better at reading an u/s then actually palpating for size.

Megan, you are almost there! One of the mamas in my AP group HBAC'd a 12 pound baby, after having a c/s for her 10lb firstborn because 'the baby was too big'...

post #5 of 11
My midwife (DEM) had a dead on accuracy with in a couple of ounces. She said she is usually pretty close. I think it is just one of those things that comes with practice.
post #6 of 11
By coincidence I had a midwife/ob appt. the very day before I went into labour.

I asked the midwife to hazard a guess that day, she said she doesn't like to do that...fair enough. The ob obliged though with:

"hmm...I'd say 8.5 to 9.5lbs, and it's still growing so it will probably be big!"... (I was 40wks+4days at the time : )

The very next day my daughter was born at a "whopping" 6lbs 2oz.

WOW doctor.

So far wrong.
post #7 of 11
In my opinion, it's about as accurate as u/s.

I can feel the butt and shoulders, etc., but nothing can tell me how much a baby WEIGHS.

I don't even guess. Or, if I do, I say "Between 6 and 9lbs" laughingly.
post #8 of 11
I agree with whats been said...

I'd ask a practitioners accuracy. My midwife with my dd kept palpating and she'd tell me that the baby "wasn't going to be over 7lbs". She was 9 1/2. :

My current midwives are much more experienced, touchey feeley, more "old school" midwife types....and they've also told me that they are usually fairly accurate.

Anyone can venture a guess, but I think few actually have the intuition and skill to make and EDUCATED guess.
post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 
Hehe....its all so funny isn't it. Ppl try to act like they know everything that could possibly be going on just to look smarter I guess. When in the end they look more foolish!

I didn't even ask for an estimate. Yeah, I'm curious but I'd rather weight and find out for sure! But it was better than the old...does this babe feel bigger or smaller than ds? I DON"T KNOW! I weighed 20 pounds more than i do now. EVERYTHING feels smaller (when in honesty this kid does feel larger but who knows!)

Have I mentioned I'm ready to have this baby so I can stop dealing with ppl about having this baby??
post #10 of 11
How accurate is external palpitation?

It is as accurate as the skill of your practitioner. Most doctors do not bother to become skilled in this procedure since they rely on u/s scans and u/s scans hold up in court more than the results and findings of an external palpitation, no matter how skilled or experienced the practitioner.

The rigidity of the mother's abs may play a role. With my first babe, the midwife and the assistant could not get a hold on my baby's position. They told me my abs were too tight. My next three babies cured that.
post #11 of 11
It's interesting because u/s measures the length of certain bones, etc., to calculate weight. When most providers guesstimate weight by palpation, they're doing it by measuring the distance of the butt to the shoulders, etc.

You just cannot tell the weight of a baby by palpation. You can throw out a lucky guess, or a range, but it's not about intuition really or experience. It's more a guesstimate based on what they think they feel.

I've seen short babies that have quite a bit of bulk on them that I would have never felt abdominally.

Regardless, the guessing of weight has more to do with women wondering if they have a baby that is too big or too small. We don't need to be feeding into those fears.
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