How to be Pregnant While Fat / by Caroline Hagerty

I have always been fat.

I have not always been comfortable with that adjective.  Thick, voluptuous, curvy.  All words I preferred at various stages in my life because I did not want to call it what it is.  And what it is and what I am is fat.

I find most people have not accepted to self-identify as fat without wincing.  It did take me approximately 30 years to do so myself (ps: I am 30 years old).  I think this is probably because we associate fat with all things terrible.  In reality, it’s just another physical attribute, like being tall or having brown hair.  It does not automatically mean unhealthy or lazy.

Throughout my life I expressed not wanting to have children.  The truth was I did not want to do anything at all that would make me even fatter.  I did not want to gain more weight, weight that would only become more difficult to shed as I aged.  But then, I did have a child.  And obviously I did get fatter.  

While I was pregnant, all my medical care was prefaced with the assumption that I would inherently have problems like high blood pressure or gestational diabetes because I am fat.  I obsessively gauged every weigh in based on time of day, outfit I was wearing, how much water I drank, and so on to calculate exactly how much guilt I should feel every single day.  I felt immensely anxious with all these tests and warnings from doctors that I was going to birth an unhealthy baby because I was fat and therefore most certainly unhealthy.  

But…the thing is, I am not unhealthy.  I do not have high cholesterol.  I do not have high blood pressure.  I did not have gestational diabetes.  I did not birth a giant baby.  In fact, while I have been fat my whole life, I have also actually been healthy my whole life as well.

I am no medical expert but I have been pregnant while fat AND healthy.  So I’d like to humbly share my top 10 tips on how I personally did it:

  1. Realize very deeply that being fat does not mean you are unhealthy.  You can of course be fat and unhealthy, but if that is the case I suspect you’d already be aware of your health issues prior to conceiving.  I was fortunately not unhealthy, yet I spent my entire pregnancy feeling that I was just because I am fat.  That mental state is actually unhealthy and didn’t do me any favors.

  2. Research the many ways to receive medical care as a pregnant woman and decide which is best for you.  Did you know in many other developed countries, women do not see OB-GYN’s at all during their pregnancies?  If you are a healthy woman, you do not NEED to receive care solely in a hospital.  Yep, that’s right.  Fat women can use midwives/birthing centers too because not all fat women are unhealthy!  Also, please know you can mix and match your birthing options.  I had a hospital birth with an epidural AND I had a midwife (not an OB-GYN) deliver my daughter.

  3. Find online visual content that does not make you feel like garbage.  There are photos of women who will feel more familiar to you than those on accounts constantly posting #flawless images.  I would actually suggest this to all social media users.  Nothing bad comes from looking at pictures of a diverse range of people!  

  4. Monitor the numbers that help you feel well, ignore the nonessential ones that don’t.  Personally, tracking time spent exercising worked better for me than tracking miles.  I did 30-45 minutes of cardio pretty much daily mostly in the form of walking, yoga, or swimming.  I also personally did not feel I needed to increase my caloric intake each trimester so I didn’t!  Knowing I was exercising daily and being satisfied by my meals made me feel way better than wondering why I couldn’t run exactly 6 miles each morning like some pregnant women out there.

  5. Take plenty of pictures.  Post them, or don’t, but please take them- even if only on a phone!  And please don’t be self conscious because you don’t have the picture-perfect C-shaped baby bump. 

  6. Accept special treatment if you want it.  I think often fat women feel we must compensate for the space we occupy by never being idle.  You are not lazy.  Your body is literally making another body.  So sit your ass down if you want to.  Say yes when someone offers to carry something for you.  Thin pregnant women do not deserve kindness or rest more than you. 

  7. Ignore all the outrageous maternity fashion tips.  “Rock your husband’s shirts” is terrible style advice.  Maybe you’re bigger than your husband!  Maybe you don’t even have a husband!  Maybe investing in your appearance isn’t a waste! Also, unpopular opinion: empire waistlines are not cute, pregnant or not. While pregnant, I bought size-inclusive designer maternity jeans for myself.  I wore them almost daily and they made me feel happy every time.  I still wore them for about 2 months after I had my daughter. None of my wardrobe purchases ever felt wasteful to me because I am worthy of feeling beautiful!

  8. Don’t pity yourself for not being as skinny as your friends.  You need to exercise.  You need to eat vegetables.  Not because you are fat, but because you’re a human being.  Thin people need to do all that lame healthy shit too.  

  9. Ignore any resources out there that say it is possible to not gain any weight or even lose some while pregnant.  It is possible!  However, I found if you entertain this possibility it will only make you feel terrible when it does not happen for you.  Plus, I am no mathematician, but if you grow a baby that weighs more than 0 pounds and grow an organ (the placenta) that also weighs more than 0 pounds, obviously the number on the scale will go up in accordance.  Weight gain is a normal, essential aspect of pregnancy.

  10. Accept the compliments even if you don’t always believe them. Also applies while being fat and not pregnant, pregnant and not fat, and any other physical combination available as a human.

I leave you with this quote I’ve always loved by the great J.K. Rowling:

“Fat’ is usually the first insult a girl throws at another girl when she wants to hurt her. I mean, is ‘fat’ really the worst thing a human being can be? Is ‘fat’ worse than ‘vindictive’, ‘jealous’, ‘shallow’, ‘vain’, ‘boring’ or ‘cruel’?”

xoxo, Lini.