Pregnancy comes with an array of “normal” discomforts and things to worry about, but for a plus size parent there may be a different set of battles to fight. This is NOT because you are somehow defective, or that your body doesn’t “work”, or that there is anything wrong with you. Most of the issues that can present challenges in a plus size pregnancy are actually due to society’s fat phobia, which is frequently seen at its worst inside doctors’ offices and hospitals. Here are some tips on navigating a plus size pregnancy in a healthy and positive way…

  1. Find a Size-Friendly Provider

For far too many plus size women, a trip to the doctor with a question, concern, or a mysterious pain is brushed off with an admonishment to “lose weight”. You want to find a doctor or midwife who not only accepts you and listens to you, but celebrates you and supports you in your goals and desires as a pregnant patient. While you will likely have some sort of intuition about a provider just by interviewing them and chatting with them, there also may be some specific questions that are good to ask for your situation. You can find an online guide to picking a size friendly doctor here:

  • Stock Up on Supportive Gear for Your Changing Body

Aches and pains during pregnancy are fairly normal, but as a plus size parent you have an increased amount of pressure being applied to your joints and ligaments. Because the relaxin hormone is surging through your body in preparation for childbirth, this leaves you more susceptible to pains, strains, falls, and injuries. Consider using a support belt for the comfort of your belly and hips, pain relieving tools like heating pads and massagers, and wearing non-slip footwear.

  • The “Risks” May Be a Little Overblown

You may have read some scary stuff online about all the terrifying health “risks” to you and your baby as a plus size pregnant parent. However, simply being a plus size parent does NOT put you in the “high risk pregnancy” category. If you are in fairly good health, being classified as a high risk pregnancy simply because of your BMI is a sign that your doctor isn’t plus-size-friendly. As a plus size parent, your baby only has a 14 percent increase in the risk of weighing over 9 pounds at birth.

  • It Might Take Longer to Start “Showing”

When you’re pregnant and excited about it, you can’t wait for that baby bump to start popping out so you can wear cute maternity clothes, take pictures, and show it off. However, as a plus size parent, it can take up to 22 weeks or more of pregnancy to start showing a baby belly. Everyone’s body composition and pregnancy are unique, so this could take more or less time for you. In the meantime, try to focus on any other enjoyable and meaningful parts of your pregnancy, such as ultrasounds, hearing the heartbeat, feeling the first kick, and planning the nursery!

  • Realize Your Body is Incredible!

Your body is a wonderful thing and it’s doing something unbelievable – creating new life from scratch. You are not society’s issues, you are not a number on a scale, you are a parent of a beautiful baby. Notice every change in your body with interest. Your breasts change to make milk for the baby. You are more tired because growing a person takes energy. You can view almost any part of pregnancy with curiosity and appreciation (well, maybe except for that dang heartburn!) for what is happening inside of you. You are amazing!

As a plus size parent, you can enjoy a healthy pregnancy, a beautiful baby, and a smooth recovery. Surround yourself with supportive voices, choose a size-friendly care team, and always be your own best advocate. You’ve got this!