Several years ago, I knew the idea of having kids was becoming less of a thought and hopefully, a near reality. I kept putting it off, saying that I wouldn’t get pregnant until I had lost some weight. Well, given that I’m now the heaviest weight I’ve ever been, I sure am glad I didn’t wait until I lost weight – because I wouldn’t have my joyful little girl and second one on the way. While pregnancy and family planning is a deeply personal topic and one you shouldn’t take lightly, I’m so glad that I stopped “waiting” on my weight and just went for it. It was my endocrinologist at the time, whom I see for PCOS, that told me that there was no reason to wait for the number on the scale to tell me I should have a baby. He suggested I go for it — and try to become the mom I always knew I wanted to be. And so, I did, and now, I’m a mom 🙂
While navigating my first pregnancy as a plus-size woman was nerve-wracking, I found it was way less scary than I had imagined, thanks to a strong penchant for research, an upfront and honest attitude with my doctors, and a determination to honor my body for the amazing work it was doing. Now that I’m on my second pregnancy (and was months away from having the sleeve weight loss surgery when I found out I was pregnant), I wanted to share some tips, tricks, resources, and anecdotes with other plus-sized and pregnant women.
1) Find a compassionate OB
Have one you love? Fantastic! You’re a step ahead. Don’t have an OB/GYN you like and trust? Time to start asking your friends, especially plus-sized ones, or visiting Yelp.com. Can’t find anything near you? Ask in the local forums on What to Expect and Baby Center. There’s also a great list of plus-size care providers here on the Plus Mommy site.
While it’s unrealistic that you’ll find an OB who never once mentions your weight (and in fact, it’s their job), you do want to find someone who approaches it in a factual and TACTFUL way. My OB worked with two other OBs, and the OB who ended up delivering me was fine, but the third OB was constantly saying things that made me feel guilty about choosing to have a child while being heavy. So, I stopped scheduling appointments with her and crossed my fingers she wouldn’t deliver me. I got lucky!
Now, don’t laugh at this – but I moved to a new area for this pregnancy, and had to find a new OB in an uncharted territory. Believe it or not, I chose my OB based on her yelp reviews, and a photo I found on her Facebook page — showing that she too was plus-sized. Childish of me? Maybe. But, I now have an OB I frickin’ adore, who GETS IT, and is perfectly pleasant to be around and be monitored by. So – there are many ways you can work hard to find a doctor you love. You’ll be with this person for almost ten months, and they’ll have their hands up your V, so make sure this person is cool.
2) Learn to brush it off and move on
You’ll interact with many people during your pregnancy, some who will make you feel glowy and happy and like a maternal unicorn. You’ll also interact with people who make you want to smack them over-the-head with your pint of Ben and Jerry’s and then choke them with your maternity pants. You may unfortunately have some snide comments made to you about your weight, because weight seems to be one of the last socially acceptable conditions to make fun of.
I don’t forget that somebody said, “Oh, I don’t think you’ll even be allowed to try for a natural birth,” insinuating that because of my size I’d be an automatic C-Section. Or the day that THREE SEPARATE PEOPLE asked if I was having twins. Or even the sales rep at the maternity store who said “We don’t make such large sizes in maternity clothes.” Maybe some of this is prego-sensitivity? Maybe. But maybe it’s also recognizing that unless you’re my doctor or trusted confidante, you don’t need to comment on my body. But… if it does happen… which it likely will… be pissed about it, vent about it, and then let it go.
The most recent sting I got was a nurse telling my husband my weight, including the lovely prefix of “Oh! She’s UP TO ###.” Gee, thanks so much. Cuz it’s the 1950s and he controls my body and health information, right? But, I stewed about it for a little bit, and then I moved the eff on, because life is life and people are people and some people just lack that little filter from brain to mouth. You’re awesome. Shake it off, let’s go.
3) Be upfront and transparent
I’m honest to a fault sometimes, and I learned a few years ago that playing coy and acting shy and embarrassed about my weight was doing nothing but a disservice to myself. When I got serious about approaching my weight as a medical problem and not a failing of self, I took that big old bull by the horns and discussed it loudly and clearly. What happened was surprising — people didn’t tip toe, but they also didn’t bring it up, or even really pick at it, like it seems like had happened in the past.
Case in point – my OB warned me that the perinatal doctor would likely be critical of my weight. I went to that appointment, told him upfront I was months away from weight loss surgery before I got pregnant, and asked what he would like me to do to make sure my weight wasn’t more of an issue than it needed to be. He responded to do the best I could, and that if it was easy, nobody would have a problem with it. Super awesome, super compassionate, super relief to just address it, and move on.
Now — I understand that this isn’t easy for everybody. Approach it if you’re comfortable with it, but if you don’t and it comes up, try not to take it as a personal attack. Unfortunately our weight can complicate risk factors for pregnancy-related health conditions, so it’s usually just concern for you and baby. And that’s fine, and good — because the end game here is healthy mom, healthy baby.
4) Move as much as you can
I’m lazy about fitness when I’m not pregnant, and when I’m pregnant, hoisting myself out of the bathtub should earn me the Olympic medal. But… it doesn’t, and I know that the more I move, the better it is for ME and baby. So just challenge yourself. Can’t make it to the gym? Fine — but walk out to get the mail. Park further away from the store. Play outside with your dog, or kiddos, or take a walk at night with your partner. Movement keeps things moving, helps with prego related aches and pains, and prepares you for your labor.
5) Consider alternative therapies – like acupuncture, chiropractic, and massage.
Oooh, lawdy. When I’m pregnant, my back aches like a beast. I discovered chiropractic care in my first pregnancy when my hip kept popping out of its socket (yep, that’s a thing. horrifying, right?!). I was amazed how much a simple adjustment kept my body and mood feeling good. I also used acupuncture to treat my anxiety, and massage just because massage feels good.
You’re limited when you’re pregnant with what you can do, so if something’s bothering you, talk to your OB about what’d be best for you and baby. There are alternative (and non-alternative) methods that can help you while keeping your little one safe.
6) Order plus-size maternity clothes
My first pregnancy I got away with wearing my usual stretchy clothes until I was about 25 weeks. This pregnancy, the bump showed up loud and proud around 10 weeks, and I was rockin’ my maternity jeans pretty early on. While we don’t have a ton of great options for plus-size maternity, there are some; and it seems to be getting better as the world realizes that yes, large people can and will procreate.
Some of my favorite sites to order from have been Motherhood Maternity, Pink Blush, JC Penney. Old Navy has maternity that goes up to a generous XXL, which works well in their jersey knits, cottons, and spandex materials. I’ve also heard good things about ?? but haven’t tried it.
There’s also a great Facebook buy/sell/trade group called FatToo Expectant, where you can buy gently used plus sized maternity wear from other curvaceous mamas.
7) Get your maternity photos
Plus-sized gals have a tendency to hide from the camera, but trust me when I say you’ll want to look back on your pregnancy. I see it in the plus-size mom groups all the time – moms who say they regret not doing maternity photos. I’m always an advocate of family photography (my mom is a photographer), and I know that a good photographer will find ways to pose you in ways that make you feel comfortable and beautiful.
My mom recommends doing your maternity photos between week 34 – 37, so you’re not as exhausted as you’ll be in weeks 38-40, but really, do them when you can. Don’t be afraid to bring cute little props like your baby’s shoes, or ultrasound photo. I’m so glad we have these photos of my pregnancy with Holly, and am looking forward to taking photos for this baby, too. Not sure how to find a photographer? Again, I recommend Yelp.com, or asking in one of your local mom groups on Facebook.
8) If you have a B belly, round it out with a belly band
What’s a B belly? It’s when your pregnant tummy starts out more on the top, and your naturally buoyant lower belly creates a seam by your belly button, so from the side, your belly looks like a Capital B.
I have a B belly until I’m about 28 weeks, but I fake my round basketball belly really well with the petti-pant from Belevation (I wear an XL). These things have been my best friend even when I’m not pregnant, helping to prevent chafing or the dreaded “chub rub” when you wear a skirt or dress. They also help round out your bump beautifully and smooth out the hips, thighs, and tummy area.
If you don’t want the thigh-containing variety, I also like their plain old belly band. In my experience it fits a little more generously than some of the other store brand belly bands.
9) Find a community
When I confided to a friend that we were “Trying” the first time around, she added me to a great group on Facebook called Plus Size Mommy Memoirs. There’s also a Plus Size Mamas group on What To Expect, and I’m sure many other collectives around the Internet.
Even though everybody’s pregnancy and circumstances are different, it’s so awesome to have people to chat to, lean on, commiserate with, and share good finds. And if you’re lucky enough to have friends with a bun in the oven at the same time you do, even better! One thing that is true for all pregnant women, plus size or not, is there’s no shortage of things to complain or delight about 😉
Not into online message forums or groups? I found some great support within these books about plus-sized pregnancy: Big, Beautiful, and Pregnant , and My Plus-Size Pregnancy Guide.
10) Enjoy yourself, and honor your body.
Pregnancy can be wrought with concern, and I know that even when not pregnant, we all have days where we look in the mirror and think “I’m huge!”, or “I wish my butt wasn’t so big,” etc. But, if you remove the negative self-talk about your body, and instead, focus on the amazing thing your body is doing, it can help give you a great dose of perspective.
Pregnancy is a gift that many people can’t enjoy. It’s not all sunshines and rainbows, but the fact that your body is creating life; its very own living, breathing, human, with its own personality, talents, and identity — is a miracle. Give your body some credit. However big, imperfect, or flawed, it’s doing something spectacular. And that’s worth honoring, recognizing, and thanking.
Now: go out into the world and enjoy your plus-sized pregnancy, knowing that you’re doing the wonderful work of creating life.
*There are a few affiliate links that will make me mad skrilla if you click ’em and buy something. Like a whole 4 cents or something. Enjoy! Also, this is a reminder that I wasn’t good enough at math to be a doctor, so don’t take anything on this blog post as medical advice, and instead, see a licensed and qualified medical professional.