If you’re a plus size woman with a new pregnancy, get ready for comments. Although a pregnancy does carry some extra risks if you’re overweight, the media and even well-meaning friends and family often make things seem much worse than they actually are.
As any woman who has been pregnant will tell you, pregnancy seems to invite unwanted comments, touching, and advice. And as any woman who is overweight will tell you, so does being plus size.
Put them together and you’ve got a recipe for intrusion and judgment that can cast a shadow over what should be one of the most exciting and important times in your life.
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You deserve to relax and enjoy your pregnancy! Here are some common questions about having a plus size pregnancy that might help you approach your next nine months with confidence.
What is a plus size pregnancy?
Actually, a plus size pregnancy isn’t about clothing size: it’s about weight. Specifically, doctors look at body mass index (BMI), which is your ratio of your height to your weight. If your BMI is 25 to 29.9, you’re considered overweight. If your BMI is 30 or above, you’re considered obese.Half of women in the US of childbearing age are considered overweight.
Of those plus size women who get pregnant, the vast majority have uncomplicated pregnancies and healthy babies.
What is healthy plus size pregnancy weight gain?
Most doctors recommend that plus size women gain less weight during pregnancy. If you’re in the overweight range, you might be advised to aim for a total weight gain of 15-20 pounds, mostly in the second and third trimesters.
If you’re in the obese range, your healthcare provider might even ask you to stay under 15 pounds of weight gain during pregnancy.
In the first trimester, many women lose weight because of morning sickness and fatigue. That said, pregnancy is NOT a time to go on a weight loss diet—even if you are obese or overweight. Your body will naturally start to convert stored fat into engergy during your pregnancy and this helps you maintain your weight even as your baby grows.
Eating a well-balanced, healthy diet is really important during pregnancy, regardless of your weight.
What are the plus size pregnancy risks?
Some of the complications that plus size women are more at risk for include:
- Gestational diabetes
- Neural tube defects
- Heart defects
- Strep B
Fortunately, there are some things you can do to help minimize your risk. At the top of the list is eating a well-balanced, healthy diet. You’ll also want to be sure to take a prenatal vitamin that contains folic acid. Folic acid helps to prevent neural tube defects like spina bifida. Ideally, you should take folic acid for several months before you conceive.
Most likely, you will also have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. However, because being overweight does increase your risk of developing some complications, it’s especially important that you get good prenatal health care from a plus size friendly doctor and take good care of your body.
Should I get a plus size pregnancy friendly doctor?
Yes! Choosing a doctor or midwife is an important step for any pregnant woman, but it is especially important for the plus size woman.
Find someone who will explain possible complications clearly, but with kindness and sensitivity. The last thing you need is a doctor who will try to make you feel afraid or ashamed. Your doctor should be a reassuring presence, not a scary one.
Work with your doctor or midwife to make sure you get tests for specific complications like gestational diabetes and Strep B. Gestational diabetes can be managed if caught early and Strep B can be treated with antibiotics.
In addition, be sure to ask your doctor or midwife about labor and delivery. Plus size women often have longer labors. You’ll want to make sure your doctor is aware of this and that you agree on how to handle a longer labor.
Have a healthy plus size pregnancy
Keep in mind that your state of mind is a factor in your health. Knowing that you can and probably will have a healthy pregnancy increases your odds of doing just that.
Surround yourself with supportive family and friends. If there’s someone in your life who is not supportive, try talking to him or her first. If that doesn’t work, avoid that person as much as possible. It may seem rude, but you are doing what is best for you and your baby. You don’t need negative people in your life right now.
Most likely, you will have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. So relax and enjoy this special time in your life!