Why Women Shouldn't Believe Every Scary Thing They Read About Being Fat & Pregnant


Plus Size Birth

This article is part of a series dedicated to providing support and visibility to plus-size pregnant mothers. To read more stories, visit Plus-Size, Pregnant & Proud. To apply to join our private community on Facebook, click here

I'm pregnant?! I'm REALLY pregnant! I'll never forget the moment when the test, which had been negative up until that very second, was finally positive. Once the shock had worn off, and my husband knew our exciting news, I opened up my trusty laptop. I can only imagine what it's like for people who aren't plus-size to Google information about pregnancy. I'm guessing their experience is far different than mine. With just a few clicks, I read that I would develop gestational diabetes and was destined to have a cesarean birth. Thanks to the comment sections, I also learned that I was a horrible person for wanting to become a mother as a fat woman. I was devastated.

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All I wanted was to learn when I'd start to look pregnant and where I could find cute plus-size maternity clothes. I never anticipated reading all of these scary things that were trying to convince me I was incapable of having a healthy outcome, just because of my size.

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Something clicked in my head as I quickly closed my laptop. My whole life I had existed in a larger body and I had never allowed that to hold me back. Why should I start now?

I took it upon myself to eat super healthy during my pregnancy. I fell in love with water aerobics and I connected with a wonderful size-friendly midwife. About nine months after I read that I couldn't have a healthy outcome, I gave birth vaginally, on my knees, following a completely healthy pregnancy.

Take that, Google!


Plus Size Birth

My positive outcome at the end of a plus-size pregnancy is not unique, but you wouldn't know it by looking online or in the media. Now, it's true that statistically, plus-size people do have increased risk during pregnancy and childbirth. However, there's no sole risk that only fat people face. All pregnancies come with risk -- but not all pregnancies come with a bias against them like they do for plus-size women.

Here are three reasons why you shouldn't believe every scary thing you read about being fat and pregnant.

1. Being plus-size doesn’t automatically mean you'll have a high-risk pregnancy.

Were you under the impression that you would have a high-risk pregnancy based on your BMI alone? If you answered yes, you're not alone!

In reality, if you start your pregnancy without any preexisting conditions (like diabetes or high blood pressure), the odds of having a healthy pregnancy are in your favor.

While you do have some increased risks because of your size, these risks aren't as high as we're led to believe. For example, there's a misconception that being overweight and having gestational diabetes go hand-in-hand. Would you believe me if I told you the risk is about 15 percent? Yup! If you are a healthy plus-size woman, you have an 85 percent chance of NOT developing gestational diabetes.

When it comes to other increased risks, like gestational hypertension (high blood pressure during pregnancy), being proactive with your nutrition and physical activity can reduce your risks.

Just like people of all sizes can be healthy, people of all sizes can have healthy pregnancies.

2. The right care provider will put the statistics in perspective.

It's critical you connect with a size-friendly provider during your pregnancy because that decision will greatly impact the outcome of your pregnancy and birth experience.

Remember how I read that I would "need" a cesarean birth because of my size? I firmly believe hiring a size-friendly care provider played a big role in my having the birth I desired, because my provider was willing to listen to what I wanted. Sadly, I hear from women who are told on their first prenatal visit that they "must" have a C-section because of their size. If you're told that, I highly encourage you to get a second opinion!

So, how do you find a provider who doesn't have a bias against fat people? Start by asking your plus-size friends and coworkers if they have a care provider they recommend. I encourage you to be open to the midwifery model of care, as midwives tend to be more size-friendly. 

Once you've narrowed down your search, and have your first appointment, ask a lot questions to make sure you've found the right fit. My favorite question is: "What is your experience working with plus-size women?" Then sit back and listen to how they answer this question, as it will be quite insightful.

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Be sure to trust your gut and know you can fire your provider if you ever start to feel like you're being mistreated. You want to connect with someone who has just as much, if not more, belief in your body as you do. 

Thankfully, there's a true shift finally happening in the medical community about how to treat people of size … as people. Laura Rice of Motherbirth.co is a former labor and delivery nurse who speaks openly about this in her piece "Dear Plus-Size Mom: A Letter From a Labor and Delivery Nurse." "I am guilty of judging you by your BMI (how is that even a THING IN PREGNANCY?!). I am guilty of dreading our time together doing fetal monitoring. I am guilty for thinking about your weight before thinking about your pregnancy. And I am sorry," she writes.

Remember that your care provider works for you and you deserve to be treated with dignity!

3. You're pregnant (or you will become pregnant).

Yes, I'm stating the obvious, but hear me out. You're growing life within you and that's spectacular! Your body knows what it's doing -- it was designed to do this. Now it's your role to nourish your body and baby with healthy, unprocessed food. Move your body daily in ways that feel great -- from walks in nature to my go-to, water aerobics. Lastly, it's critical you believe that your body is capable of doing this (because it is)!

Tune out the negative messages and tune in to your body and baby, because your body is truly amazing.

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