I don't hear it very often, but I have heard it a number of times over the years.
It never ceases to amaze and surprise me that some non-fat folks actually believe this nonsense, but they do. Some people actually tell fat women that they will never feel their baby move or kick because of their fatness.
Puleeeeeeeze. Like there is fat inside your uterus that will prevent contact between your baby and the uterine wall? Like the nerves in the area don't function in the presence of adipose tissue? Like there is soooo much fat in the abdomen that nobody from the outside could possibly be able to feel an 8 lb. bowling ball rolling around inside? Come on!!
Plus, there's the actual experience of fat women. We feel our babies move, trust me. But somehow, either that experience doesn't get communicated to non-fat folks or they just don't believe it.
So you get these people who tell women that they probably won't feel their babies move in pregnancy because of their fatness, or that their partner will probably never feel the baby move either.
Personally, I think it's another way to make fat women feel bad about pregnancy, like they can't experience all the normal pregnancy stuff other women get to have. People may not consciously be trying to shame or make fat women feel bad with these remarks, but deep down I think that the unconscious motivation is tsk-tsking. Really, anyone with half a brain who took a second to think about it (or ask a fat woman about their experience) would know it's not true.
It's like saying, Yeah you can have a baby, but you are so fat you won't get any of the pleasure that goes with it. Nyah, nyah.
People may not always intend it in a mean-spirited way--it may simply come from ignorance--but what a joy-killer a remark like this is. Shame on the people who perpetuate this kind of nonsense.
One Woman's Story
Here's an email I got a while back from someone with exactly that question, plus my reply to her.
Someone told my husband that I may not be able to feel the baby kick or move because of my weight. I was searching your site...and was just wondering if this is true. It doesn't sound right to me ... because the baby is inside my body...My Reply:
You are correct. You will feel this baby move. There is no fat inside the uterus, so you will feel the baby move inside you just fine.
You'll probably feel it on a similar timeline as a woman of average size, which can be anywhere from the 12th week or so till the 26th week or so. In fact, you probably are already feeling the baby move but if you've never been pregnant before, you simply may not recognize it as fetal movement yet. It's really very subtle at first. And it takes a while to be sure you really know what it is.
From the OUTSIDE it's true that it may be harder to feel the baby move early on because of intervening "fluff," but in time it will also be felt there. It may happen later than it would happen in a person of average size, but sooner or later, your partner (and you) will be able to feel this baby move from the outside too.
The one caveat to this is that if you have an anterior placenta (a placenta that has implanted on the front side of your uterus, near your belly), that can make it harder (and take a little longer) to feel the baby move internally and/or externally. It definitely makes it harder to find the baby's heartbeat at first, as I know from my own experience with one of my kids. But that has nothing to do with obesity, just with placental placement. Skinny women with anterior placentas have the same problems.
Rest assured, you will eventually feel the baby move from both the inside and the outside. You'll feel it from the inside on a similar schedule as other women; it may take longer to feel from the outside, but it will happen.
I'm "morbidly obese," have had 4 babies now, and have been able to feel all of them move, both inside and out. Sometimes I felt the baby moving in the first trimester, usually it was early to middle second trimester, and with my third it was late in the second trimester (because I had an anterior placenta). But I felt them every time, and eventually so did my husband. There was never any problem with it.
Even the most supersized woman I've encountered has felt her baby move, sooner or later.
So don't worry, you won't miss out on this wonderful feeling! Feeling your baby move is one of the most special things about pregnancy, so enjoy the heck out of it once you do feel it. It's one of the things I miss most, now that my childbearing days are done.
Treasure it forever, and don't let some ignorant stranger worry you about it. In this way, as in so many other ways, your experience of pregnancy as a woman of size will be very comparable to that of other women. Your weight won't keep you from feeling your baby move, don't worry.
*Anybody out there ever hear this chestnut?