I can't tell you how much stories like these infuriate me; NO ONE should have to put up with this kind of bullsh*t treatment. People in the healthcare professions should be ASHAMED that this kind of medical bullying occurs. Yet sadly, it is all too common with women of size, especially in obstetrics.
I have permission to quote her email; I have edited it slightly.
I am 31 years old and I weigh 400 pounds. The last time I was pregnant, which sadly ended in miscarriage, I weighed 350 pounds...I've overcome as best as I can and I want to try for a baby again.
My current OBGYN says he can get me and my baby safely through pregnancy, and that he has lots of history with obese women and pregnancy. I want to believe him, but I worry because of what another doctor told me.... and because of what I've been brainwashed for years to believe.
Anyway, when I was pregnant, I went to a doctor who CONDEMNED me the moment I walked into the office. He told me that I wasn't going to make it alive through my pregnancy and that they would "have to take drastic measures to try save me before they would even attempt to save my baby" etc.
He kept saying I shouldn't have gotten pregnant, that I had in a sense, committed suicide! He told me that my heart was going to give out, or that I was going to stroke out while attempting to push my LARGE baby out, therefore I was going to have a c-section. He told me that I was going to have massive blood clots in my legs and severe pre-eclampsia.
I left his office completely panicked and in tears. I was shaking so bad I could hardly walk and all he did was look at me and said in a cold voice with no emotion at all, "It's really scary, isn't it."
I regretted all the years of trying and numerous fertility treatments (I have PCOS) to get pregnant. It was 4 days later that I lost my very much-loved baby. I believe it was a good part due to the stress and fear that he caused me.
I'm sorry; this kind of treatment is INEXCUSABLE.
Yes, statistically there are more risks in pregnancy with obesity, and yes, these risks probably do go up somewhat as BMI increases, but at NO point do they reach 100% or even remotely close. Being at increased risk for a problem does not mean you will inevitably experience it, and in the meantime there are proactive things you can do to lessen your risks for problems. Even if you do experience a problem, most of the time there are treatments that will help. Most of the time things are fine.
Let me say it once again. MOST women of size have healthy babies just fine.
"Even" in the 400 lb. size range, I know of a NUMBER of women who have had healthy pregnancies and babies. Most in that size range are not "allowed" to labor (or the doctors induce their labor early and then they end up with a cesarean) so the cesarean rate in this group is very high....but I DO know women of that size range who have had vaginal births too. None that I have known have died or even come close. None have stroked out during labor or birth; none have had heart attacks or any of the other dire things this doctor said would surely come to pass.
The largest-sized woman I have come upon so far in case reports in the medical literature was around 500 lbs. She did NOT experience gestational diabetes, she did NOT experience blood pressure issues, she did NOT have blood clots, or any of the other terrors this doctor would have said she obviously would get. The only complication she had was asthma, and she and baby were just fine. As is so common with obstetrics, they did pressure her to have a cesarean, and surgery on a person of that size is more difficult and challenging.....but it went just fine. There were no complications at all.
Although certainly there is more risk for complications, it is NOT a bygone conclusion that bad things will happen, even in women of very large sizes.
Medical bullying is a blight upon the profession. That's not to say that doctors and midwives cannot share that obese women are at increased risk for some complications; they would not be doing their jobs adequately if they didn't share these possible concerns. However, HOW you discuss these things makes all the difference in the world.
You can present possible risks without implying that they no doubt will happen; it's important to present the risks in proper perspective. The truth is that they do NOT happen to the majority of women of size, and the worst-case scenario very rarely happens. You can also present them in a neutral way, without the judgment and harshness and condemnation so often used on women of size.
Furthermore, you can present ways to be proactive that can help lessen the risks for complications. Excellent nutrition (not dieting) and regular exercise go a long way towards lessening the risks, and for women at particular risk, there are other options too, such as using metformin prophylactically or considering low-dose aspirin (with medical supervision). These are all things that can be discussed calmly and reasonably, without having to resort to hyperbole and scare tactics.
The kind of over-the-top BULLYING shown above is a total exaggeration of the risks, and basically amounts to trying to scare women of size out of having babies rather than giving her reasonable counseling about possible risks. It is a unique and insidious form of bullying and eugenics and IT MUST STOP.