I’m not petite, thin, lean, slender, or even close to a size 6. I’ve got some junk in the trunk as they say and I’m incredibly insecure about it. But what does my weight have to do with parenting? Well it was something I thought a lot about when I was pregnant.
It used to drive me crazy when I met healthy sized moms who complained about their “huge” size. I know that everyone has body issues, but at least when you are healthy and within the prescribed BMI people never confuse your bump for fat.
It’s one thing to feel fat, which I have no doubt every pregnant woman feels at some point, but to been seen as fat is an entirely different experience.
The worst part about starting out my pregnancy overweight was how I was perceived and talked to by health practitioners. What I experienced was that they assumed at first glance that I didn’t know how to eat and live healthy and would not be able to do so during my pregnancy.
From day one, I received lecture after lecture about not gaining too much weight during my pregnancy. I felt like I was being talked down to instead of having an informative discussion with my health practitioner. I started to feel like I was getting paranoid, but after talking to a few other mom’s to be, I discovered those who were also overweight getting the same feeling. I hated this feeling. I hated feeling like I was being judged, I hated being treated like an idiot. To make matters worse, when I did maintain a healthy weight gain due to my healthy diet and regular exercise my health practitioners provided me with excessive praise. They seemed almost shocked in their praise. Did the healthy sized mom’s to be get the same treatment? I don’t know.
Being plus sized and pregnant made me feel like I was special in my health practitioners eyes sometimes, and when I say “special” I don’t mean in the good way.
Now that my little guy has been born, my size is something that I still think about. Like most new mom’s I am keen to lose the flabby bits acquired during pregnancy, but more importantly I want to be healthy and active to provide my son with a good example and to ensure I have the energy for parenting.
Looking back on my experience, I doubt my feelings were unique. What is disappointing is that health practitioners (doctors and midwives included) towards pregnant women with weight issues are somewhat systemic. I don’t doubt that their opinions are unjustified, in addition to the higher health risks both to the mother and infant that a high BMI can be linked to, practitioners in their years of practice have likely seen their share of women’s weight balloon. However, what is wrong is the bedside manner in how women are treated. We are dealing with significant emotions and changes our bodies and we don’t need to be made to feel worse about ourselves while pregnant. I could see the risk of assuming overweight women have no idea about nutrition or exercise leading to worse problems of women choosing not to listen to their health providers valuable information just because it was delivered poorly.
note: throughout my pregnancy I gained 22 lbs, which was considered ideal for my current weight. I also did not have this experience with everyone, but it was definitely from a majority..