Are you having a big fat pregnancy? Fat-positive coach, doula, educator, and founder of Big Fat Pregnancy, Christina Hughes, shares strategies for families navigating the maternity care system.
By facing fatphobia and advocating for size-inclusive care, expectant parents can feel empowered, supported, and respected throughout their pregnancy journey.
Having a Big Fat Pregnancy
Before we begin, let’s address the f-word, fat.
While many identify with having plus size pregnancy, more and more folks prefer the word fat to plus size when talking about their body size.
For Christina and many others, using the word fat has been a way to reclaim it and no longer allow it to be used as a weapon when someone talks about their body.
She shares, “What if I just said I’m fat, right? And I tried it on, and over time, it was like, Yep, I’m fat. It’s cool. Like, I got belly fat, I got thigh fat, I got chin fat, I got backside, I got arm fat. It’s all there. I love it.”
And when Christina launched her work supporting people in larger bodies during pregnancy, using the word fat was a perfect fit!
Unpacking Internalized Fatphobia
We all have biases, and facing our internalized fatphobia is essential, especially during pregnancy.
Why? Because if you hold negative beliefs about your body size, it can lead to feelings of shame, guilt, and low self-esteem, which can, in turn, affect your emotional and physical health during pregnancy.
Facing your internalized fatphobia can help you become a better advocate for yourself and your baby. By recognizing the impact of weight stigma and discrimination, you can better understand the importance of finding size-inclusive care and speaking up for your needs and rights.
Christina encourages people first to understand where they are at in their journey to unpacking weight bias and what other identities they may also be working with at the same time.
“We talk a lot about where are you. What are you bringing to the table? What has been neglected in your life? And then how do you want to show up? We talk a lot about where we are, where we want to go.
Then it’s doing the work to get there and asking even more questions.
“Why do you believe that? Whose truth is that? That is one of the most powerful questions that I have found.”
An example would be someone assuming they will develop gestational diabetes because of their size and then unpacking that by asking yourself why you believe that and whose truth is that – because the evidence doesn’t support that belief!
And when we look at the root of fatphobia, it’s directly connected to racism. So, Christina recommends the books, Fearing the Black Body, The Racial Origins of Fat Phobia, and Belly of the Beast: The Politics of Anti-Fatness as Anti-Blackness.
Connecting with a size-friendly care provider makes such a big difference during a big fat pregnancy journey! But it’s more than just your care provider – you want a fat-positive care team.
For a birth professional to be fat-positive, they need to believe that someone deserves access to health care and that weight isn’t the only marker of health. Beyond that, it’s looking at how people identify and acknowledge the trauma they may have faced.
“The likelihood that a fat person has experienced an adverse childhood trauma is higher. And then we add on things like bullying and harassment and sexual assault, right? Like all of those things are also things that affect people’s experience that they can bring to their journey as well. So for me, it’s a holistic viewpoint of how we’re caring for people. And it starts with the fierce belief that fat bodies are capable and deserve it.”
Below are questions Christina recommends asking with searching for a fat-positive care provider.
- What experience do you have working with those living in larger bodies? Or even, how comfortable are you with my fat body?
- What experience do you have with Health at Every Size®?
- What’s your experience with eating disorders?
- What’s your preference for consent first language?
- How many fat folks have you seen?
When hiring a fat-friendly doula, you want to connect with someone who makes you comfortable.
“I really wanted someone who was going to be comfortable touching my fat body. And know that because of where I carry my fat, or you know how it was comfortable for me to bend or not bend. That they would be able to move with me, and they would be able to know or suggest or support my body as it needed to move.”
Learn more from Christina and dive deeper into these topics during episode 199 of the Plus Mommy Podcast.
Recording & Show Notes: Plus Mommy Podcast Episode 199
Transcript happily provided upon request.
Resources Mentioned On The Show
- Fat Fertility Matters with Nicola Salmon
- Connect with Christina and her work with Big Fat Pregnancy via her website, Instagram, and TikTok.