Britain's third biggest girl makes waves after water birth: She weighs in at 12lb 6oz
Grandfather nicknames baby Popeye due to her beefy arms



14:30 GMT, 16 May 2012

A baby girl has made waves when she was born in a water birth – weighing an astonishing 12lb 6oz.

Bethany Jane Turner, who arrived in a birthing pool at North Manchester General Hospital, is Britain’s third biggest baby girl born naturally. Remarkably her mother Naomi gave birth only with gas and air.

Mrs Turner, 33, and husband Gavin, 32, had no idea that their daughter would be so huge.

Our big baby girl: Bethany Jane Turner surprised her parents Naomi and Gavin by weighing 4lb more than her siblings did at birth

Our big baby girl: Bethany Jane Turner surprised her parents Naomi and Gavin by weighing 4lb more than her siblings did at birth

Their other children Katie, eight, and Billy, five, weighed in at 8lb 10oz and 8lb 9oz respectively, and the couple expected Bethany to be a similar size. The average baby girl is almost half the size at 7lb 4oz.

Her grandfather Peter Lowe, 54, has nicknamed her Popeye because she has rolls of fat around her arms.

Naomi, an optical assistant from Bury, said: 'It wasn’t until she was born that we realised she was so big. They put her on the scales and everyone was shocked. I was struggling and I was a bit out of it towards the end of the labour but we still managed to have a natural water birth.

'It was perfectly fine and the labour was no more painful than the two other births.'

Bethany was born a fortnight overdue at midnight on May 11 – after a three-and-a-half hour labour.

Bethany was a fortnight overdue when she was born

Bethany was a fortnight overdue when she was born

Britain's third biggest girl: Bethany was a fortnight overdue when she was born

Naomi and Gavin, a construction site manager, were able to take her home after two days in hospital and praised staff for their care.

Sam Wagner, midwife at The Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust which runs the hospital, said: 'It was an absolute delight to support Naomi throughout her water birth.

'We were all surprised when baby Bethany arrived with a huge splash weighing 12lb 6oz, a first for the birth centre,' said Sam.

The national record for the biggest naturally born baby girl is held by Suzie Devendale, from Swindon, who was born weighing 12lb 12oz in February.

Most big babies are born by caesarean, including Britain’s biggest baby girl Niamh O’Halloran – weighing 14lbs 4oz in February.

The heaviest baby ever born was in January 1979 when Anna Bates gave birth in Ohio to a boy that weighed 23lb 12ozs but he died 11 hours later. The world’s heaviest surviving baby was another boy, born weighing 22lb 8oz in Italy in 1955.

Why are today's babies being born so BIG by Rachel Porter

In the post-war years there has been a steady upward trend in birth weight, explained in the main by improvements in our diet.

Larger, healthier, more muscular babies were born as a result, pushing the current average birth weight to 7lb 8oz for boys and 7lb 4oz for girls — up 2oz and 1oz respectively since 1970.

And this rise in birth weight shows no sign of stopping. Between 1993 and 2003, the number of babies born tipping the scales at above 9lb 15oz increased by 20 per cent and experts expect statistics from the next decade — 2003 to 2013 — to have rocketed yet again.

While there is no set figure for how much a newborn should weigh, The Royal College of Midwives use 8lb 13oz as its guideline for the tipping point between a healthy weight and a potentially problematic one.

Alarmingly, the rate of macrosomia (the medical term for babies born over this tipping point) has soared in recent years.

So why is this happening The simplest answer is that babies are getting bigger because their mums are, too. The latest figures show that almost half of women of child-bearing age in Britain are overweight or obese.

Obese women make more insulin than other mothers-to-be, which leads to more fat, sugars and other foods being supplied to the baby.

Obesity during pregnancy can be dangerous for mother and child — it increases the risk of many complications, including stillbirth.

Doctors report that bigger babies are at a high risk of shoulder dystocia — where the shoulder gets stuck during the delivery. It is a potentially life-threatening condition, which can compress the umbilical cord or put pressure on the baby’s neck, leaving it dangerously starved of oxygen. In extreme cases, it is necessary for the obstetrician to break the baby’s collarbone, in order to deliver it alive, which runs a high risk of nerve damage.

‘While most people think the bigger the baby, the healthier it is, there is mounting evidence to suggest the opposite: in fact, babies carrying too much weight at birth will live with the consequences for the rest of their lives,’ says Dr Daghni Rajasingam, a consultant obstetrician and spokeswoman for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

‘They are more prone to diabetes and heart disease and are affected at a younger age.’

To combat such problems, earlier this year, the NHS announced a trial to put obese mothers-to-be on diabetes medication to reduce the amount of insulin in their bloodstream — thus controlling the baby’s weight gain.