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Pregnancy is a journey of several ups and downs. The health of the expectant mother, no doubt, is an important factor, but in some cases, the physical attributes such as the weight and height could also be a concern. Now, weight, we know, could cause health complications, but there are chances that a short woman could face pregnancy-related complications, too. However, it doesn’t mean that every woman with a short height cannot have a normal delivery. There are other factors apart from genetics, such as nutrition, habits, and lifestyle which affect pregnancy. In this article, we will talk a little more about how short height could affect pregnancy and how the complications can be reduced.
What Is Considered as Short Height in Women?
Usually, a height below 4 feet 11 inches is considered short for women. The stature could be short due to a number of reasons including genetics, malnutrition, or conditions like osteoporosis that affect the height. Coming back to the topic, does short stature in women affect pregnancy? Well, there isn’t a certain specific height which is associated with normal delivery. Height does not always infer that women below 4 feet 11 inches are not capable of giving birth to a full-term baby.
However, there are certain cases, where a medical condition leads to short stature during the growth years and also affects pregnancy in adulthood. Read on to know how it does.
How Does Short Stature Affect Pregnancy?
In some cases, the short height of a woman does create some complications when pregnant. Below are some of them:
1. Premature Birth
Prematurity is the foremost complication on the list among other pregnancy complications. Usually, a baby born before 37 weeks is considered premature. And, such babies are on the risk of having respiratory or digestive issues. According to a study, the short stature of a woman may influence the duration of a baby in her womb, which may result in preterm birth.
2. Lack of Oxygen Supply to the Foetus
At times, prolonged labour may create an uncomfortable atmosphere for the foetus inside the womb. In some rare case, it might hinder the supply of the required amount of oxygen for its survival.
3. Excessive Bleeding
Excessive bleeding is another complication one may have to face at the time of delivery. During vaginal birth, short women have to apply more force to push out the baby, as the baby has less room to come out, this may result in damage to the vaginal tissue, and it may lead to excessive bleeding.
Episiotomy is the process of making a small cut between the vagina and anus of a woman to aid in the delivery. Usually, the cut made will heal with time; however, since the cut in short women is much deeper, healing time is longer.
5. Low Birth Weight and Height of Baby
Since there is not enough space for the baby to develop fully due to a smaller size of uterus and pelvis, it may result in low birth weight and height of the baby.
6. Obstetric Fistula
Obstetric fistula refers to a hole that forms between the vagina and the urinary tract or rectum. The layer between the vagina and rectum gives way to create a passage for the baby to come out. However, if the birth canal is small for the baby to come out, if the labour push is carried for a prolonged time, it may result in damage to the tissue of the birth canal. Hence, the odds of developing obstetric fistula in shorter women is higher.
7. Cephalopelvic Disproportion
Cephalopelvic disproportion is a condition wherein the head of the baby is too large to fit through the pelvis of the mother for normal vaginal delivery. Such cases are higher in shorter women as their pelvis is comparatively smaller. It may result in damage to the pelvis tissue if the labour pushing is prolonged. According to a study, maternal height and pregnancy complications are closely related in some women.
What Can Be Done to Reduce the Possibilities of Complications?
Factors such as lack of nutrition during childhood may lead to growth issues and affect the height of the woman. It could also be related to genes. And, therefore, there is little one can do about it. However, not every woman with short height goes through pregnancy complications. The few who run the risk of complications during childbirth must consult a gynaecologist to gain as much knowledge as possible, follow a healthy pregnancy diet, exercise, and take complete care of their health to make childbirth a bit easier.
During pregnancy, it is recommended to focus on other factors such as proper intake of nutrition, maintaining pregnancy weight, adequate exercise to ensure a normal delivery. A gap of 18-24 months between pregnancies is also recommended to ensure a smooth delivery. This time frame ensures that a woman’s body replenishes essential nutrition lost during the previous delivery, and is ready to nurture the next baby properly.
1. Do Shorter Women Face More Complications at the Time of Delivery?
Even though it does not hold for all woman of shorter stature, in some cases, shorter women may face more pregnancy complications than others.
2. Is It Possible for a Baby Born to a Short Woman to Grow with Short Height?
Due to the lack of space for the foetus to grow properly in a short uterus, there is a possibility for such babies to have a short height in their later years. However, it does not hold true for everyone. There are cases where a child born to a petite woman grows taller than her parents.
3. Can a Short Woman Give Birth Naturally?
Not all short women have non-conventional or unnatural deliveries. Hence, there are possibilities for short women to give birth naturally. However, they are more susceptible to face pregnancy complications while giving birth than others.
Short height is not the only factor which affects pregnancy. Hence, it is recommended that you consult your doctor and focus on taking proper care of yourself to ensure a smooth delivery.
Also Read: Cervical Length in Pregnancy