Stop Expressing Faux Concern For Plus-Sized Pregnant Women
I’m pregnant with my third and last baby. This pregnancy, like my other two, has been completely uneventful so far. I mean, yes, I’m uncomfortable and tired and nauseous. I’m older than I was the first time. I have pregnancy hemorrhoids, my boobs hurt, and I’m cranky. The usual stuff.
But overall, pregnancy pretty much agrees with me. I am so grateful that I have never experienced any of the scary things that can happen in a pregnancy. I’ve had a couple early miscarriages, and it takes me a little while to get knocked up, but once we are on course, it’s pretty much smooth sailing.
I bet you’re thinking, “Well, good for you, lady. What a bunch of boring, non-information. Why are you bothering to tell me any of this?”
Glad you asked. I am telling you all of this because I’m not just pregnant. I’m plus-size and pregnant.
This is my third plus-size pregnancy, actually. I’ve had a lot of experience as a pregnant fat woman, and it’s not all great. Pregnancy itself is fine, but I have to tell you, people are nosy and rude. A lot of folks find it really hard to believe me when I say I am healthy, and so is my baby.
It happens even when I’m not pregnant. People just love to tell fat people — especially women — how to live our lives. We live in a society where people always equate thinness with health, and plenty of people think a photo of me in a bathing suit is all they need to diagnose me with all kinds of illnesses I don’t have. Despite my conscientious lifestyle, varied diet, and clean bill of health, I find myself dodging questions about my body ALL. THE. TIME.
It’s as annoying and exhausting as it sounds.
When I’m pregnant, it’s annoying, exhausting and really freaking hurtful. I spend 40 weeks growing these babies, being cautious of every morsel and sip that crosses my lips. And not because of how it might affect the size of my ass — because of how it could affect my baby.
My babies are safe in my body, and I take good care of them from the moment I see a second pink line. When people judge my health based on my weight, it’s the same as saying that the child that is nestled happily in my body is in mortal danger based on my size. That’s a shitty thing to imply, especially when they have no way of knowing if that is even a little bit true.
We live in a society where people always equate thinness with health, and plenty of people think a photo of me in a bathing suit is all they need to diagnose me with all kinds of illnesses I don’t have.
As much as I try to keep it in perspective, I’m only human, and it hurts every time I hear someone say they feel sorry for my children because of the size of my body.
Here in the real world, pregnancy can be tough on anyone, regardless of size, and the most catastrophic pregnancy outcomes don’t sit around waiting for a fat mom to get pregnant. The thinnest, most athletic woman alive can find herself with life-threatening preeclampsia. Gestational diabetes doesn’t discriminate based on size. Placenta-related issues and genetic anomalies are possible for anyone.
Pregnancy can be fragile. Every pregnant person is vulnerable because sometimes nature is just incredibly cruel. The best any of us can do is make good choices and hope for the best. There are no guarantees. Being thin doesn’t spare you from heart-breaking complications and being fat doesn’t doom you to a tragic outcome. There are so many factors that have nothing to do with size.
And you know what? Pregnancy can also be easy for anyone! I threw out a pregnancy related question on my social media once, and within minutes well over thirty women had shared their totally positive, healthy plus-size pregnancy stories.
I’m not saying that doctors shouldn’t acknowledge and monitor places where plus-size pregnancies can carry slightly increased risks. I am saying unless you’re a physician and a person is your patient, you should shut your mouth about their health. You literally know nothing. Assuming that a plus-size woman is automatically unhealthy during pregnancy is not just uninformed; it’s obnoxious and discriminatory and just really gross.
Unfortunately, it’s not just laypeople that make these assumptions; even the midwife I saw during my first plus-size pregnancy acted like if I survived the pregnancy with a healthy baby, I’d be an outlier and a miracle. I spent my entire pregnancy terrified, wondering if today would be the day when my fat body would just go rogue and wreak havoc on my baby. I loved being pregnant, but I wished the time away because I was so afraid.
Assuming that a plus-size woman is automatically unhealthy during pregnancy is not just uninformed; it’s obnoxious and discriminatory and just really gross.
As it turns out, my body totally rocks at carrying babies. He was perfect, and so was I. My blood pressure climbed slightly when I was full-term, so we induced to be safe. My BP went right back to normal once he was born. I’ve never had another high reading during pregnancy or otherwise because, wonder of wonders, I don’t have blood pressure problems.
After my experience with the pessimist midwives, I switched to an OB/GYN who has been practicing since before I was born. Plus-size pregnancies don’t faze him. He loves his job with such a passion that he doesn’t want to retire. He rarely takes a vacation. The science and the humanity of pregnancy and delivery are his life’s work, and he continues his education with great enthusiasm. He is always chatting about a new study, or an interesting development, explaining how he used to do things versus how we do them now. He is kind, brilliant, and understanding. My size only enters the conversation in a very matter-of-fact way when we are discussing something that pertains to it.
In over 40 years, he has seen everything a pregnancy can bring. He was prepared for anything when he took me on a patient. Based on my extreme fear and anxiety from the way my midwife handled my first pregnancy, he agreed to consider me high risk. He monitored me extra closely. I had extra glucose testing, bought an at-home blood pressure cuff. He ordered ultrasounds every four weeks, then every two weeks, then every week.
When everything went perfectly, he told me that would never happen on his watch again.
“If you have another baby with me, we will not treat you like there’s a problem unless there is evidence of an actual problem. You don’t need extra tests and close monitoring. Your body knows how to do this.”
He kept his word. He has treated plus-size pregnancy #3 like a normal, healthy pregnancy because…newsflash…it IS.
Plus-size pregnancies aren’t the risky, terrifying disaster that some people seem to think they should be! You can’t tell looking at a pregnant woman whether she is having a healthy pregnancy or not — no matter her size. Bodies of all shapes and sizes can successfully carry a baby. Let’s work harder on reserving our opinions and celebrating every pregnant body. Everyone deserves to enjoy their pregnancy without judgment from strangers who have no clue.
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