It turns out that size does matter, especially when it comes to pregnancy. This might come as a surprise to a lot of people, but there’s a new report that says shorter women actually have shorter pregnancies. In other words, there’s a good chance that you might deliver your baby before your due date if you happen to be on the short side.
Researchers found a genetic link from mom's height to baby's birth weight and length, which was to be expected—small moms make small babies. But, the pregnancy's length was not simply caused by the mother's genetics, meaning something else was responsible for shorter women having shorter pregnancies.
"Whatever influences maternal height, such as mom's genes but also her nutrition and other health habits, influence how long she will carry her pregnancy," says Dr. Louis Muglia, M.D., Ph.D., co-director of the Perinatal Institute at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center (via PLOS Journal)."We think this relationship may exist either because mother's height influences uterine size or pelvic size, or height is related to mom's metabolism and how much energy she can supply to a growing baby prior to birth."
To conduct the study, researchers looked at Nordic women and their babies. Dr. Muglia and his team studied nearly 3,500 mothers and their babies in Finland, Denmark and Norway, and they noticed a curious pattern. The data suggested that shorter mothers had shorter pregnancies, smaller babies and a higher risk for preterm births. And while there is no definite answer as to why this seems to be true, height may affect a woman’s uterus and pelvis size. This means babies conceived by these moms would have less room to develop and this might prompt an early exit. Makes sense, right?
While there isn’t much that women can do about their height (other than wear a good pair of heels), there are a few things you can keep in mind during your pregnancy. Monitor your weight gain, try to not miss a prenatal appointment, and be sure to take in the right nutrients through a prenatal vitamin and a balanced diet. And most importantly, relax, unwind and try not to stress out too much. With that being said, the United States has one of the highest rates of preterm births of any resource-rich country. Around 500,000 babies are born prematurely each year.