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The Journey of Plus-Size Pregnancy



In the world of maternity care, a broad spectrum of experiences exists, shaped by various factors, including body size. As a birth doula, I've had the privilege of supporting numerous women through their pregnancy journeys, a significant portion of whom identify as plus-size. It's imperative to advocate for the inclusion and respectful treatment of plus-size pregnant women in maternal health discussions and practices.


Contrary to common misconceptions perpetuated by media and societal stereotypes, many plus-size women lead healthy lives, have healthy pregnancies, and experience fulfilling births within loving and supportive relationships. The notion that plus-size pregnancies are inherently high-risk is a gross oversimplification that overlooks the individuality of each pregnancy.


A case that profoundly impacted me involved a client named Carrie, a vibrant woman expecting her third child. Carrie, who was pursuing a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean), chose to give birth at a hospital known for its supportive environment. However, the treatment she received highlighted a disturbing trend in the care of plus-size pregnant women.


Upon arriving at the hospital, Carrie faced a series of invasive questions from the medical staff, focusing more on her size and personal life than her health and well-being. This line of questioning not only felt dehumanizing but also led to a temporary halt in her labor progress. The following day, despite a change in the nursing staff, Carrie encountered similar attitudes, with comments that felt more judgmental than supportive.


As Carrie navigated her labor, comments from the nursing staff on her mobility and physical capabilities continued, seemingly expressing surprise at her activity level, given her size. These remarks, intended or not, served to diminish her dignity and reinforce harmful stereotypes.


Despite these challenges, Carrie successfully delivered her baby girl, Willow, through a triumphant VBAC. Yet, even in the joy of birth, Carrie had to defend her health status as the staff questioned her about conditions she did not have.


This experience profoundly impacted me and highlighted the need for a more inclusive and respectful approach to maternity care. Healthcare professionals must move beyond superficial assessments and engage with plus-size pregnant women with the same dignity and thoroughness afforded to all patients.


As members of the maternity care community, we must ensure that every pregnant woman, regardless of size, receives the respect, care, and support she deserves. This includes providing proper equipment, offering sensitivity training to clinical staff, and actively working to dismantle the stereotypes that can cloud judgment and affect care.


The journey of plus-size pregnancy, as illustrated by Carrie's story, underscores the importance of compassion, understanding, and professionalism in maternity care. By embracing these values, we can contribute to a more inclusive healthcare environment that celebrates diversity and ensures the best outcomes for all mothers and their babies.


For those interested in furthering this cause, I recommend visiting Plus Size Birth (http://plussizebirth.com), an excellent resource for families and healthcare providers. Together, we can make a difference in the lives of plus-size pregnant women and their families, fostering a healthcare system that respects and accommodates the needs of every patient.

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Denise Bolds, Bold Doula

Hi, I'm Denise

I'm Bold Doula, a passionate birth doula who advocates for empowering birth experiences. If you're looking for support or guidance on your journey to parenthood, please reach out. I'd love to help you navigate this transformative time with confidence and care!

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