Most moms-to-be spend a lot of time thinking about childbirth. In my experience, it's typical to have specific labor and delivery preferences, or to be afraid of the process entirely. One big worry I had was that my baby was going to have a big head, resulting in a hard labor, vaginal tearing, an episiotomy, or worse, my baby getting stuck and requiring an emergency C-section. The good news is that medical technology has enabled doctors to find out if your baby is going to have a big head, and well before you deliver. And once you know, together with your doctor, you can plan for a safe delivery.
According to the Fetal Medicine Foundation, your baby having a larger than average head — also called macrocephaly — is actually pretty common, and most often not a sign of a serious problem. According to Healthline, in a majority of cases, having a big head is genetic or inherited, so if you or your baby's other parent has a big head, your baby is more likely to have one, too. As Neurologist Sumaira Nabi told Medscape, in less common cases, your baby having big head might be the sign of a medical or developmental condition, which is why your doctor will measure your baby's head diameter and circumference during your second trimester screening ultrasound, and may re-check it again during later ultrasounds.
It is important to know if your baby has a big head in order to monitor their health and development and, as previously mentioned, because it may impact labor and childbirth. One study published in the Swedish journal Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica showed that large fetal head circumference can increase your risk of labor complications, the necessity of an assisted delivery (with a vacuum or forceps), or having to have an emergency C-section. Another study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology showed that having a baby with a big head was actually more likely to cause you to need a C-section than having a big baby in general.
While all of this may sound scary, the good news is there are signs that your baby might have a big head and ways for your doctor to diagnose macrocephaly, and other related conditions, before delivery.