Talking about being pregnant and plus size is becoming normalized, as evident by the #plussizeandpregnant hashtag reaching nearly 25 million views on TikTok.
Even with access to supportive information becoming readily available, there are some questions people secretly ponder.
“Liking” an Instagram photo of someone celebrating their B-shaped belly during pregnancy is one thing. Wondering how to embrace your B-belly is another!
Jen McLellan, certified childbirth educator, founder of Plus Size Birth, and host of the Plus Mommy Podcast, answers seven questions people mull over but might have trouble openly discussing. From facing internalized fatphobia to having tough conversations with care providers – we’re going there!
Pregnant And Plus Size – Q&A
The questions below were submitted by Plus Size Birth Instagram community members. Friendly reminder that none of this information should be interpreted as medical advice, and always contact your care provider with any questions or concerns.
Warning: the topics surrounding fatphobia and weight might be triggering for some.
1. Any tips for people who have to see a new provider at each prenatal visit?
Whenever possible, it’s critical to connect with a size-friendly healthcare provider. But that’s not always possible, especially within care systems like Kaiser Permanente.
Don’t worry; I’ve got you covered!
On the day of your visit, prepare emotionally. It can be helpful to write down questions so you don’t get flustered and forget to ask anything important.
If you’re feeling a lot of anxiety, don’t hold back from sharing that with your provider within the first few minutes of your visit. By sharing how you’re feeling, and if you’ve experienced any size discrimination – you become far more than just a number on a chart.
If the provider recommends something you’re unsure about, you can use the BRAIN acronym. It’s a set of questions you can ask to feel good about making healthcare decisions.
B – What are the benefits?
R– What are the risks?
A – What are the alternatives?
I – Always listen to your intuition!
N – What happens next or if we do nothing?
And continue with self-advocacy by learning even more helpful tips.
2. How should I respond when my doctor mentions increased risks due to my size during pregnancy? He keeps bringing it up.
It’s a care provider’s job to discuss pregnancy risks and how to reduce them.
So, talking about pregnancy complications is part of prenatal care when you’re pregnant and plus size; however, being made to feel shamed or as if you will incur risks can be a red flag.
If your provider is continuously discussing increased risk, I think it’s perfectly appropriate to say, “Thank you, we’ve already discussed this. Now, I’d like to talk about XYZ.” And then have a question in your back pocket ready to ask.
Another thing you can do is understand the difference between relative risk and actual risk – don’t worry, we will break that down for you here.
Quickly, relative risk is a rate compared to another rate.
So you’ll hear you’re at a much greater risk for developing gestational diabetes (GD). But what does “much greater” really mean?
All it means is that your risk for GD is significantly more than someone with a lower BMI. That’s some information, but that’s not super helpful. You want to know your actual risk.
Hint: it’s far lower than how many providers make us feel about our risks during pregnancy.
3. Can you really ask not to be weighed?
Yes! As a mentally competent adult, you can’t be forced to do what your care provider recommends – including being weighed!
With that said, you’ll likely be pressured to be weighed during pregnancy, and if you want a medicated birth, your provider will need to know your weight.
It can be empowering to know you have options around when and how you’ll consent to be weighed!
And you can learn about all your options here.
4. How can I love my B-belly?
Having a B-shaped belly is extremely common when pregnant and plus size. The B-belly hashtag on Tiktok has 18 million views, and over 2,000 #bbelly images are on Instagram.
You’re not alone!
And knowing that you are not alone is the first step to loving your B-belly. Next, you’ll want to find clothes that help you embrace your bump. Some people like to wear a belly band for support and belly smoothing, while others confidently show off their B – you do what works for you!
Lastly, touch your belly, talk to your baby, and know your B-belly is holding life within it, and that’s magnificent.
5. I’m worried my weight could harm my baby. How can I deal with those fears?
Remember, people of all sizes can have healthy outcomes, and people of all sizes can have pregnancy complications.
But we don’t treat someone who is a size ten and develops GD the same way as someone who is a size 24.
Unfortunately, healthcare professionals, websites, and loved ones sometimes share many misconceptions about having a pregnancy in a larger body. So, it’s critical to be careful about the messages we consume when pregnant and plus size (and well beyond).
Take good care of yourself, try to build a great care team, and surround yourself with supportive friends and family.
6. Help! I’m afraid to announce my pregnancy because I’m plus size and worry about how people will react.
Hugs! I wish this wasn’t a concern, but I truly validate this fear. So, start by sharing your exciting news with a friend you know will be overjoyed for you.
Then, as you’re gearing up to spread the word, remember that you don’t know what’s happening in other people’s lives. For example, it can be challenging for people to congratulate others while someone is struggling with infertility.
So don’t automatically assume it’s about your weight if you don’t receive an enthusiastic response.
However, if someone addresses your weight, you can say, “I’ve got a great care provider focusing on my health, and I am too. So I’m covered there, and I appreciate your support and well wishes.”
Then, you’ll need to set firm boundaries if you have a loved one that continuously harps about your size during pregnancy.
Hopefully, your joyful news will be celebrated by those you love.
Overall, know that there will always be those people cheering you on, and I’m one of them – congratulations!
7. How can I manage my internalized fatphobia when pregnant and plus size?
Internalized fatphobia is when someone applies weight stigma to themselves – from frequently criticizing themselves, avoiding being in pictures, avoiding social situations due to negative beliefs about their body size, to going on fad diets.
Internalized fatphobia is rooted in fatphobic societal misconceptions, the medical community perpetuating misinformation, sexism, and racism.
Negative throughs and harsh feelings about our bodies dramatically impact our self-esteem. So, the first step is to accept that these feelings are shared by many – you’re not alone.
Once you’ve accepted your internalized fatphobia, treat yourself with kindness!
Unfortunately, you’ve likely held onto these negative views of your body for most of your life, and learning to treat yourself with compassion will take time.
Start surrounding yourself with people who love you for you, and set boundaries with those who make you feel shame.
Read books and tap into organizations like The Association for Size Diversity and Health (ASDAH) and National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance (NAAFA), which promote size-friendly resources while amplifying the most marginalized voices.
And also, be mindful of the resources you’re taking in during a plus size pregnancy.
This work takes time, but it’s worth it!
Dig in much deeper into these questions about being pregnant and plus size during episode 176 of the Plus Mommy Podcast.
Recording & Show Notes: Plus Mommy Podcast Episode 176
Transcript happily provided upon request.
Resources Mentioned On The Show:
- Check out the FREE Plus Size Pregnancy Weekly Breakdown.
- 7 Things You Should Know About Being Plus Size And Pregnant
- Plus Size Pregnancy Q&A
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