Tuesday, May 25, 2010

You're Killing Your Baby

I recently did a project with a "supersized" woman.  (Yeah, I know, not my favorite term either.) We got to talking about our kids, and of course pregnancy and birth experiences came up.  I was curious to see how she'd been treated.  The answer.....not well.  She gave me permission to share her experience here.

At the time of her first pregnancy, about 20 years ago (only 1990, folks, hardly the Dark Ages), she was much smaller.  She thinks she was a little over 200 lbs. at the time.  She was still treated like crap.

She spent a lot of time trying to eat really well in pregnancy, mostly salads and protein.  She had severe nausea which made eating anything difficult, but she was doing her very best.  But of course, no one believed that she could possibly be eating decently. 

She remembers one particular visit with her OB.  The OB told her, "You're killing your baby because you can't control your appetite." 

Now remember, she was already eating well, and her weight gain was within guidelines.  But this doc looked at her and made all kinds of assumptions about her habits (and what would happen), just based on her body alone.  And then proceeded to scare the crap out of her about her baby, based on her size alone. She left the appointment in tears and cried for days.

Post-note: She didn't switch OBs but she did start bringing her husband to appointments, who intimidated the OB away from further comments like that.  The baby from that pregnancy, contrary to predictions, is alive and well and was part of the project we collaborated on....a truly delightful girl. 


Leslie said...

I'm really scared to have kids. My gyno was really nice when I talked to him about babies, but I don't know.

Anonymous said...

Oh God, it's just so damn offensive isn't it.

How to teach the world that fat does not equal liar?

Women are already vulnerable during pregnancy and child birth, and douchebags like this OB just add to that sense of vulnerability.

Meowser said...

I think it has to be the "you're a liar" stuff that pisses me off most of all, when it comes to fat hate. I would rather not see a doctor ever again in my life and die of an internal hemorrhage, than have to see a doctor who does not believe me when I tell xyr what my habits are. Seriously.

You can (if you're my doctor) dispute whether my habits are serving me well and whether there is room for improvement; that's part of your job. I might not agree with your recommendations, but you're not out of line to suggest other things for me to try, if I haven't already. But treating me like some mendacious candy thief? Will. not. fly. Bye bye.

Janeen said...

"How to teach the world that fat does not equal liar?"

Let's add to that, that being fat does not equal a person who constantly overeats/binges/sits on his/her lazy bottom/goes to Mc Donald's all the time/etc.

I lucked out the last pregnancy, I had a very nice OB who barely said anything about my weight. This time around has been a completely different story and the sad thing is at 32 weeks, I've yet to gain weight above my pre-pregnancy weight. If anything, this pregnancy I'm almost afraid to lose weight and my self-esteem has been damaged because how I've been talked to and I don't even have any complications or health issues, my ONLY issue is being what's called morbidly obese or supersized. It's definitely frustrating and very disheartening at times because eventually, you start to feel a sense of self-loathing that is almost impossible to get rid that not only harms how you see yourself but how you think others see you.

Course, it doesn't help that it seems like the whole world is on a fat bashing phase right now. It's like the last civil rights movement that needs to happen, no matter big/small a person is, he/she still needs to be treated like a human being, not like a second class citizen.

Erica said...

I agree, Janeen.
We are one of the few rounds of outcasts still left. That does, thank goodness, bring people of that status closer together though (and banded together, we might actually change the world enough to be treated like human beings). I'm so sorry you're going through that. I hope everything goes smoothly for you and your new addition, try not to let societal imposed bias eat away at your joy of bringing a new life into the world!

mustangsabby said...

I was told that I was going to kill my baby if I didn't listen to the ancient GD nurse at the hospital when we first got diagnosis, during my first pregnancy. She said "Because you're fat, you have to work extra hard at being good with your diet." huh? I changed hospitals, and nurses, and the next nurse was much better. My Obstetrician was adamant I could not gain any weight during the pregnancy because I was "obese" (I'm 200 pounds at 5'1") and I might not get an epidural, and he insisted on inducing me at 39 weeks because he assured me my child would be HUGE. It ended in a C-Section, when it happened, and my son was 6 pounds. And on top of that, I did have an epidural, and gained weight, and all was fine in the end. *raspberry*

Sometimes I wish we could be taken at our word, and our health looked at before we are judged to have all these complications because we are fat. I understand the complications of GD, and I get that with the extra weight I have to be more careful of certain things. All the comments and scaring made me feel guilty for being overweight, and worried about my son being born with issues. He is perfectly healthy, and was a normal weight, thankyouverymuch.

La di Da said...

Have you seen the UK comedy series 'Gavin and Stacey'? The second series features the pregnancy of Stacey's best friend Nessa, who's a fat woman, and the final episode when she gives birth is probably one of the better depictions of birth on TV I've seen. As I recall, she stays at home until a certain level of contractions, then goes in to the local hospital. She's attended by a midwife-nurse only mostly, I think a doctor pops in once very briefly, and she labours in a few positions then gives birth on all fours, with only the midwife and Stacey present. No medical interventions, no Hollywood panicking and screaming. And the character of Nessa is a long way from "wacky hippie earth mother".

[The series are only 6 25-minute episodes long and there are 3 series, it's worth getting them via Netflix, it's one of those quality quirky UK comedies that is alternately hilarious and gut-wrenchingly emotional. It was written by Ruth Jones (who plays Nessa) and James Corden (who plays Smithy, Gavin's best friend and also fat). Their characters are depicted as big eaters, but that and their bodies are not considered character flaws, just character. I think that the writers themselves are fat helps elevate Smithy and Nessa beyond the "fat sidekick" role. That and the brilliant writing and acting.]

Anonymous said...

She should have switched OB's. I have had 2 kids now working on number 3. All of my pregnancies started out over 200 lbs. No one has ever spoken to me that way. There are providers that don't act that way. Totally unacceptable!

Luci_Rose said...

There is nothing worse in the world than feeling like you are a criminal for simply being who you are.

Janeen said...

I agree Luci Rose, though sometimes, the feeling is worse than feeling like a criminal. You read enough stuff and hear enough stuff and you start to feel like you shouldn't even EXIST. That there's something SO WRONG with you that you should not even be out walking among all those normal looking skinny people.

My husband, while a good man, doesn't get it. He's skinny. He didn't get over 100 pounds until 10th grade (I hit over 100 by the age of 10 but wasn't fat per se). he thinks that all I need to do is just put some effort into it and stick with it. He constantly worries about my health thinking that the weight will kill me at an early age. So far, numbers have all been normal. He's even mentioned that I shouldn't gain weight this pregnancy though is at least VERY much behind me on getting a VBAC. It's sad how much society has conditioned people to think that those who are overweight/obese are ALWAYS unhealthy when that just isn't the case. Sure, I could stand to get into better shape and improve my eating (especially eating more veggies) but otherwise, my habits are no worse than a lot of skinny people I know and in many cases, they're better because I've at least worked to get rid of most of the boxed food out of my diet.

Kathleen said...

I was treated by a family practice doctor during my pregnancy who did not say much about my weight. His main concern was gestational diabetes especially since I have a family history of type 2 diabetes but I never developed it. I gained very little weight during my pregnancy. My pre-pregnancy weight was 263. I dropped to 258 after having severe morning sickness. My weight briefly bloated up to 284 at 34 weeks when I was diagnosed with preeclampsia but it was water weight. I was 274 the day I delivered at 36 weeks and 258 a month post partum. I had a 5 pound baby who my doctor says probably would not have been more than 7 full term and at his 1 month he was 7 lbs 4 oz. So much for fat women only have fat babies. I did have a c-section but only after induction failed and they actually told me I had had to have an epidural in order to reduce the stress from the pre-e. My doctor did say that losing weight may help reduce my pre-e risk if I have another baby but otherwise he never said a whole lot about it so I guess I was lucky in that respect. My pregnancy was healthy until 34 weeks and when I asked if my weight was a concern he said no unless I developed complications. Which I think is how it should be. If you and the baby are healthy then they shouldn't be attacking you over weight.

Anonymous said...

I'm the mama whose midwife dropped her at 36 weeks, about a year and a half ago, for fear of a big baby. (Baby ended up being born at home with the assistance of another midwife, was only 9lbs, easy delivery, no complications whatsoever.) But one thing the midwife who dropped me said as justification for dropping me was that I had an unhealthy diet, and this was part of why she felt I shouldn't have a home birth all of a sudden. Now, she had no idea what I was eating although I had admitted to an occasional scoop of ice cream and at the time she didn't seem to have a problem with that. But I was sending her my blood pressure and blood sugar readings on a weekly basis and they were fine. And my weight at the time was 10 lbs UNDER my pre-pregnancy weight. My post-pregnancy weight was 30 lbs under my pre-pregnancy weight. Now who loses weight eating junk food? I can tell you, I don't! The fact that I was over 200 lbs was proof that I was following an unhealthy diet. I don't know how much weight I would have needed to lose in the pregnancy to "prove" I was healthy enough. Let's face it, it would have had to be 80+ lbs. And how healthy would that be, really? Ridiculous. The fat bias is so obvious and so damaging.