10 Tips for an Enjoyable and Healthy Plus-Size Pregnancy

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.

Photo by Lynnette Joy Photography

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.

An update from Alyssa and April: A fresh start in 2016!

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Well hey there! How are ya? Lots has happened  in the past year… mainly that I had a baby! Holly was born on 11.09.15 and is an amazing, sweet, happy little baby. My life has changed dramatically in just two months, and as I suspected, I’m finding that my attitude towards my body and weight loss is changing. The desire to get healthy is even stronger than ever now because it’s no longer just about me – being a healthy Alyssa is being a healthy mom for my daughter. April and I decided over Christmas this year that we wanted to come back to the Double Chin Diary.

Managing a full-time job, marriage, baby, and writing on my blog is going to be a bit difficult, so this year I’m not giving myself any “goals”. It’s simply trying to move to a frame of mind for feeling good. Pregnancy and the post-partum time period does a doozy on the body, so for now, I’m ready to get started with a few simple things; 1) Getting back to gentle exercise, like walking, yoga, and riding my bike, 2) Moving away from sugar, and 3) focusing on self-care like sleep, gardening, and eating nutritious things. That’s all. No goals of “I must lose this much weight by so and so,” because that stuff has never worked for me. I just need to try to do and be better.

A blogger friend of mine has been experiencing some health issues, and she posted this on her Facebook: “To all of you youngsters on my friend list who are carrying extra weight, PLEASE heed my warning and lose the weight … sooner rather than later! We only get one shot at this life, so please don’t waste/throw away years of it being overweight like I’ve done.”

It really resonated with me, and as I approach the ripe old age of 31, no day or time is ever promised. Why wouldn’t I want to spend it feeling great? I’m thrilled that so far mommyhood has been wonderful; I feel happy mentally, and now it’s time to start feeling better physically. My back in particular has been aching a lot since late pregnancy and labor (more details about that later: the chiropractor is my new best friend), so I’m ready to shed some weight to see if that helps.

Feels good to be back… I’ll check in soon with more details about my body during pregnancy and after.  2016: let’s do this! (PS: You can also find me on my other blog, LaLaLyssa.com sharing more lifestyle related things like tales from motherhood, random posts about cats, and other stuff.)

XOXO

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From April:

It has been a year since I stopped writing on the Double Chin Diary. This past year went by quickly as I didn’t have much time to rest with my usual chaotic schedule. I spent 2015 working an assortment of positions at a local humane society, babysitting, and being a full time student. I am proud to say that I’m just one class away from completing an advanced certificate in Environmental Resource Management and Pollution Prevention!

Even though my life was on the constant move, I managed to gain 45 pounds. I know why I gained the weight. I ate for convenience and not health. My idea of exercise was walking from the farthest parking spot in the lot at work. I stopped hiking, playing tennis, and going for walks around the town. I hit my ultimate level of exhaustion and my body took the impact of it.

This year I can’t continue to act the same way. My body just can’t handle any more weight. My legs get all twitchy when I’m tired, just like they used to do 8 years ago before I had lost 50 pounds. I eat Tums like they are the only thing that keeps me alive. I spend my weekends sleeping and cleaning because I’m too tired from the week to do anything productive after work. I need to start making the changes necessary for me to lose weight and regain my health. Plus, with my niece Holly around now, I have even more motivation to get fit.

Alyssa and I have been talking how we need to start writing again on the Double Chin Diary. I never had an extraordinary amount of weight loss while writing here but a major benefit I found was the accountability for myself to do well. I felt like I wanted to have positive things to write about so I was motivated to try harder.

Now that it is a new year and my crazy schedule should be calming down, it is time to start again. I plan to write at least once a week about my adventures of being back at the gym, eating well, and regaining my health. I’ll be using Myfitnesspal.com to track my weight and maybe my food and exercise, if I can be disciplined enough. I need to start COMPLETELY avoiding the foods I’m allergic to (wheat, rice, oats, apples, oranges, and bananas) as I do think my denial of my food allergies over the past four months definitely attributes to my weight gain.

Like so many at the beginning of the year, I am full of great intentions. I hope I can actually fulfill them this year.

Happy 2016 everyone!

Cheers,
AprilSignatur

The F Word

You thought I meant the four letter one, huh? Or the three letter one? Nope! I mean the word FEMINIST.

Most of the time, I love being a woman. In high school, my best friend and I would pore over the book Making Faces, spending hours crafting various looks from tubes of concealer and blushes and eyeshadows. We delighted in the feminine pursuit of shopping and finding clothes that flattered our bodies, made us feel confident, and brought a swing to our step. Even dating was in some ways an exercise in self-acceptance, as we quickly grew to realize what boys really did appreciate the fact that we loved aggressive girl-punk-rock, and which ones actually thought we were just silly girls.

I’ve always had a feminist edge, and I’m not ashamed to say I’m a feminist. I’m still shocked by something that happened to me in college: I was working on my Bachelor’s degree in 2008 at Cal State Northridge, and we had a “women and men in the media” class. My teacher asked everyone in the class who was a feminist to raise their hands. Out of 32 students, one person raised their hand. That person was me. I couldn’t quite understand why being a feminist was seen as such a bad thing. In fact, one of my first boyfriends dumped me because I was a “feminazi” because I told him that females could be DJs just like men, and he felt that DJs should only be male. My definition of feminist is somebody who values, respects, and appreciates that women should have the exact same rights as men. I’m not standing on street corners burning my bra or refusing to shave my legs (though quite frankly, if women want to do that, go for it. (And shaving your legs totally sucks, so I can see the appeal in that,). I once saw a quote that said that all people born from women should be feminists… and I agree.

As I near the end of my pregnancy, I’ve had some time to reflect on body image and beauty standards for women. When other people see you are pregnant, they feel they have a free pass to comment on your appearance as it now pertains to two people: you and a baby. I’m used to rude comments on my appearance as a woman of size, and thankfully while I don’t experience it often (apparently I “carry it well”, another thing I hear a lot), I’ve noticed that as I have just under 4.5 weeks to go, the comments about the size of my body, appearance, and bump are picking up. I also heard comments about my food choices in my early pregnancy, but anyone who dares comment on my dietary choices now might receive a swift kick to the head. I don’t want my daughter to be walking through the mall hearing teenage boys make “oink” sounds behind her back. If she chooses to become pregnant one day, I also don’t want her to have to hear “Wow, you still have four weeks to go? You look ready now!”. I don’t want her to hear about the size of her breasts, how she has such a pretty face, or how things would be better “if only” she lost a little weight. However, I’ve accepted the sad reality that because she is female, she will hear these things. In Amy’s Schumer’s movie, Train Wreck, the main character’s sister shares that she found out her unborn baby is a girl. Amy shares her excitement and says something to the extent of “That’s wonderful!”. Her sister immediately says “No, it’s not! She’s totally screwed!” and Amy says, “Yeah, you’re right, she’s screwed.” The actual dialogue in the movie is much more succinct, but basically the gist of the scene is, yeah, she’s  a female, she’s already got a few challenges stacked against her just because of her gender. While I am thrilled to be having a baby girl, I admit I have some of the same hesitations. I’ve lived an amazing life thus far, but have I experienced sexism or problems because I’m female? You betcha. We all have… and I’m sure even men have experienced things that suck because they’re guys.

Jennifer Weiner wrote this letter to her daughters, and it made me sniffle because it sums up so eloquently what I want my daughter to know. As we’re just weeks away from meeting her, I want her to know it’s ok to be a girl. It’s ok to love the color pink, and it’s also okay to hate wearing a bra. It’s ok to be a feminist. It’s ok to question the status quo, to be angry that she may be reduced to her appearance rather than the sum of her parts. I haven’t even seen her yet and I know that she is beautiful, not because of what she looks like, but because of who she is. She will be courageous, and strong, and intelligent. She will be creative in her own ways, independent in her own ways, opinionated in her own ways. And she will grow up with a mom and dad that encourage her to be herself, and to raise her hand when a teacher asks if she is a feminist. And with any luck, hopefully she won’t be the only person in the room to raise her hand.

Pedego A Go Go: Why an e-bike is great when you’re not feelin’ 100%

Stuff the FTC makes me say: Pedego provided me a complementary bicycle in exchange for my coverage on the Double Chin Diary and social media as part of being a Pedego Electric Bike Ambassador. All opinions are my own.

Pregnancy is a gift, but when you’re spending significant parts of your days nauseous and gagging, it can get a little overwhelming. I haven’t written in a few weeks because I’m one of those unlucky people who got second trimester morning sickness instead of first, and the last few weeks have been kickin’ my booty! This has unfortunately sapped my energy and I haven’t been able to ride my Pedego as much as I’ve wanted (that, coupled with crazy 95 degree plus heat…). I even was advised to stay home from a work trip I was really looking forward to, so that shows you how much my booty has been gettin’ kicked. Wah! Today, I was craving a baked potato with dinner, so I decided to get on my Pedego. Even though it’s been a bad nausea day and I’m tired, I used the Pedal Assist mode and was instantly relieved and refreshed how it made my bike ride so simple!

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I realized this is the beauty of the e-bike. For people who aren’t feeling good, who have pain issues, are preggers, or are just starting an exercise program, no wonder e-bikes could be the ticket to getting you back on track with fitness. A 2 mile ride where I’d normally be huffin’ and puffin’ with my 10 pound sack of potatoes in the bike basket (they were only 99c for the whole bag!) was suddenly manageable again.

Why yes, that is a 10 pound sack of potatoes in my bike basket.

Why yes, that is a 10 pound sack of potatoes in my bike basket.

I also have to give a shout out to the step-through design and style of the bike… now that the bump has arrived, thank goodness I don’t have to hoist myself up onto the seat like I’m trying to get on a horse. Makes me want to rebrand my bike, Pregoago instead of Pedego. Ha! Maybe there’s a market there… 😉

I was watching some videos on Pedego’s site, and this story about Beth Turner resonated with me. She used to ride her bike to work but some knee pain was making it difficult: until she got a Pedego. Voila! Solutions on two wheels, right there.

I’d like to figure out a way to show you guys the difference between the pedal assist and the throttle soon, because I know I’ve had a few questions about how it’s different, so stay tuned as I figure that out. As a side note: I passed out two brochures about this bike while being out and about on it. THAT was cool. It’s certainly an eye-catching bike.

So tell me – when you’re not feeling good, how do you keep active? What light activity do you do to keep your body in motion without overdoing it?

 

A bundle of joy arrives in November!

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My husband and I are very excited to share that in November, we’ll be parents! We enjoyed an awesome five years of marriage before deciding to expand our family, and now that we’re expecting, we’re over the moon. I’ll be sharing more on the blog later about what it will mean to have a plus-sized pregnancy (hint: nothing dramatic. With healthy eating and exercise, you can have a healthy, normal pregnancy — I have so far been lucky to have not gained a pound, and have felt great!), and how I ultimately made the decision to move forward with my life despite not reaching my goal with weight. But for now, I wanted to share a little bit about how we broke the news.

Matt and I went on a Caribbean cruise in mid-March, and thankfully, even though I was about eight weeks along, other than fatigue, I felt really good (I did miss my mojitos, though!). We decided to take a photo on the beach and write “Baby C” in the sand (See below). I’m wearing my weekly bump shirt that I made (thanks to my pal KJ Pugs), and two awesome gals on the beach helped us stage a mini photo shoot. Because we live eight hours away from our immediate family, we knew we’d have to break the news digitally to some people. Thankfully Matt’s Dad was coming down to visit, so we got to surprise him in person with a custom mug that says “Grandpa, Est. 11/15”.

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We also got to tell my best friend and sister in person. I bought them aunt onesies, wrapped them in boxes, and had them both open the boxes at the same time. My sister screamed so loud and jumped up and down that I’m pretty sure the cats thought it was the apocolypse — it was awesome! Here she is right after hearing the news, and right after putting on her makeup (sorry, Ape! My timing was off on that!), hair still wet in a babushka.

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Surprising my parents was a little bit more complex. We decided to have my sister print the photo from the cruise, and present it to my parents while we skyped them. You’ll hear my sister say we shipped the picture. Thanks to my awesome brother, we have this video of my mom’s insane reaction. (Back story: My mom has been annoyingly obsessed with becoming a Grandma since I was about 18 (not kidding!). She had to be sternly reminded several times that we would have kids when we were ready, and I always told her good things come to those who wait. See, Mom? It finally happened!) PS if you’re offended by F-bombs, do not watch this video because there are several of them! My favorite part is the dog jumping up and down with my mom.

I’d been trickling out the news slowly to family and friends, and as of today I’m 13.5 weeks pregnant and thanks to a detailed scan last week, we know that Baby C. looks great and is so far nice and healthy! (Please say a little prayer, send good thoughts, or make a wish on a dandelion that all continues to go well.) 🙂  To pre-emptively answer a few questions I’ve been getting lately:

  • How am I feeling? As I mentioned earlier, my only major symptom has been fatigue, but I’m starting to perk up a little bit. I haven’t had any morning sickness and I feel so fortunate that so far I’m feeling really, really good. Being crazy excited helps 🙂
  • When is the due date? November 12, a Scorpio!
  • Will we find out gender? Yes! Definitely. I think we still have a few more weeks to go before we’ll know. I definitely have a “feeling” it’s one gender, so I’ll be curious to see if I’m right!
  • Any cravings? In the earlier weeks I craved a Veggie Delite sub from Subway, and have been super averse to chicken. In fact, I’m struggling with eating meat in general. I’ve never been a big meat eater and am having to be creative about getting enough protein. The most consistent craving I’ve had is berries – strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries, which I have almost daily. I’ve also craved Sour Patch Kids and Cheez-Its, but am trying to keep my junky indulgences to a minimum.
  • Was the baby planned? Yes, indeed! I am very grateful to have conceived as having PCOS can make things dicey in terms of fertility, and I am well aware of the struggles so many people go through to become parents. I am holding all of the hopeful parents to be in my heart that one day their dream is fulfilled.

So that’s my news, Double Chinners! I’ll be back on the DCD more often now because, heck, I missed y’all, and even though my new blog is cool, DCD will always be my home. Thank you as always for your loyalty and time, and for reading my little old blog. I’m a pretty lucky gal! <3