What percentile is my baby? 15th. The western obessession with stats

18 Feb
Baby Afro

Baby Afro

It was clear from the start I wasn’t going to give birth to a big baby. For those of you who haven’t had a baby in the modern day, the OBGYN appointment are endless, especially after week 28 and if like me you measure smaller than expected from week to week. Week 26 I was measuring 20cm instead of 26cm, this caused all sorts of panic and I had to go for ultrasounds and non-stress tests quite often from then on. My husband and I are both not particularly big people so our offspring was not likely to break any records unless gestational diabetes kicks in, another unlikely factor given our family history.

So when baby Malaika finally showed up, 5 days late, quiet as a mouse…she caused quite a stir…. She was 2.67kgs and 50cm long, tiny … apparently. The delivery room was something out of Grey’s Anatomy doctors, paediatricians, nurses everywhere! Even young Prince George I am sure didn’t have that much attention drawn to him. Her sugar levels were low and she wasn’t as warm as they’d like so poor thing had to sleep in an incubator her first night and get a sugar test every three hours. With this blood test came a prick to her foot, each time she quietly took it until the 8th time she decided enough is enough and let everyone know she wasn’t having it! A trait that seems to have stuck..

Soon after her birth I would keep the same question: “So what percentile is she in?”. A question quite often met with a blank stare from me and an “I don’t know”, shock and awe was the expression that often followed, “Don’t you want to know? Didn’t your doctor tell you? When is you next check up, you should find out”. This was usually followed by a spewing out of their own child, niece, nephew, grandchild, baby next door and the plumber’s kids stats. So I ask you, isn’t it just ok that the baby eats, poops and sleeps? Making it day to day was hard enough at that stage without the added pressure of stats.

So at the three month check up I finally asked our family doctor, “Well…. she’s rather small”… Same comment each time, if I didn’t known better I’d be in a right panic! Turns out our little angel is in the 15th percentile in general but hold on, 25th percentile for head measurement! Ouch! She has a big head…. having said that no one has taken into consideration she was born with quite the afro and it’s steadily growing…How do you factor that in? Does this mean since she’s so below normal I should panic? How do you even begin to improve the stats? Start her on solids straight away? Stretch her each night? Put her in a head compress? After checking with people back home and consulting the WHO website including an aunt who is a paediatric matron I find out that all her stats are quite normal by Southern African standards. So the question becomes, Canada is so cosmopolitan, shouldn’t they take these cultural difference into consideration.? I do appreciate that anything that applies to North America is a “world standard” but lets be fair…. She’s happy, healthy, eats well, sleeps well, poops eight times a day (I know its excessive..)



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