Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Too Fat To Give Birth

Okay, before you start reading I must disclose that this may come across as a ranting post and there may be some bad language. This post has been sitting in my drafts folder for a while now. I keep adding and tweeking bits. Let me start at the beginning, my first pregnancy.

38 weeks preggers and about the size of a bus!
I have always been chubby and over the last few years I have been clinically obese. I am very short (just shy of 5ft and although I am a size 16-18, my height means my BMI is always high. Even when I was a size 12 at 10 stone I was classed as overweight. In desperation to fall pregnant I took some protein shakes as part of a food elimination/VLCD diet. It worked and after 3 weeks of drinking nothing but milkshakes I was almost 2 stone lighter and pregnant. Nobody mentioned my weight at my prenatal check ups. I went on to lose more weight in my pregnancy due to constant morning sickness.

2 weeks before I was due to give birth I was speaking to my midwife about my birth plan which was always planned as a water birth. She then said 'you can't have a water birth, you're too overweight'. I was 1 BMI point over the threshold that they set for water births. She then went on to tell me that I would have to been constantly monitored and that I really should of been under consultant care throughout my pregnancy. I was reeling! I asked her to justify this to me, why could I not have a water birth? What did my weight have to do with that? She told me that the reason for this was that the nurses weren't insured to pull me from the water should I need assistance as I'd be too heavy.

Well, this set me off big time. It was big tears and snotters. What I couldn't understand or get across was the fact that someone who was 1 inch taller than me could be the same exact weight but would be classed as healthy and allowed to have the water birth. I just didn't feel heard. I was forced into choosing between a closely monitored hospital birth or a home birth with my own birthing pool. This was a no brainer for me. Home birth it was although this caused much tension between me and my family. Although my Mum was supportive, nobody else was behind my decision and everyone thought I was mad. As it happens I ended up transferring to hospital as my blood pressure was elevated. This was not weight related. I had none of the risk factors associated with being overweight and pregnant. I kept extremely well throughout my pregnancy. My labour went without a hitch (excluding the BP). Looking back I have perspective on it but it still angers me.

I went to the doctors today to get the results of some bloods I have had taken recently. The Doctor gave me a really hard time about my weight and said my BMI was 'ridiculous'. He was reading out my results and said that my cholesterol was perfect, sugars were perfect, thyroid perfect and that he actually couldn't believe how healthy I am considering the way I look (what he meant was what my BMI is). I discussed with him the fact that we want another baby and he just looked at me with disdain. He left me with the thought that I am too fat to give birth and that falling pregnant would be selfish and I'd be putting myself and my baby in danger. I wanted to shout 'what an arsehole!' 'Who do you think you are!' or 'Go F*$k yourself' but I just could even speak. My heart was heavy and I just got out the room as quick as I could.

*Edit* Since writing this post 5 years ago, I went on to have another baby. I didn't lose any weight but I did get fit. I walked more regularly and I improved my diet but didn't go on a diet. I had a problem free pregnancy, a trouble free labour and produced another beautiful, healthy boy. My struggle with the NHS/BMI didn't stop I'm afraid but I was stronger and more vocal second time round. You can read my about my epic 2nd birth story here. I had to fight to be midwife led second time round and not in consultant care but I got my own way! Never give up fighting. Thin doesn't mean healthy. I may be large but I am fit, healthy and strong. My body is amazing. It is a roadmap of the journey to motherhood. It is a vehicle that carries me through life. I love my body and I am not ashamed of it.

I'm linking this post up with Liska's Inner Truth Linky

Inner TruthT


  1. Doctors - huh - enough said!!!!  you and your family look so happy in all your photos and JC is just an adorable wee boy.  Well done to you both, you are both such loving parents and feck the BMI ratio!!!  What is more important - a) that you doctor is happy with you? or b) your son is happy with you both!!!!!!  Answer on a postcard please to Dr Diddie c/o BMI ain't low enough, Slim City!!!!  xxx

    1. Thanks Karen! I am actually quite happy with myself. I'd like to be slimmer but I'm also fed up of torturing myself over it. X

  2. Oh Claire, first of all a BIG hug! (although now knowing how tiny you are we may need a chair to do that successfully ;)

    Considering a new baby should be a happy positive time, not something that makes you feel guilty or bad about yourself.

    Of course your doctor has a duty to look at your overall health and weight is a part of that.

    But, having said that, it is also his job to encourage and support you.  It's his job to look at all the factors before forming an opinion.

    It is not his job to focus on one area of your health to the exclusion of everything else.

    Whilst carrying extra weight isn't ideal during pregnancy, this attitude isn't helpful or even telling you anything you don't already know.  It's also true to say that it's bloody hard work looking after a young child whilst you are pregnant or a newborn when you have other young children (mine are 13 months apart, believe me, I know it!).

    I think you should go back and see him preferably with either your husband or a good friend and discuss this again with some support so that you can talk about it calmly without feeling bullied (because that's the way I see it) or intimidated.

    Remember, this is YOUR decision at the end of the day.

    Anyone who reads your blog can see what a great Mum you are! xx

  3. Thanks Sarah. I felt awful about it afterwards and angry more than anything else. I do want to lose some weight before my next child but I didn't like feeling bullied or belittled by someone who should be supportive. Thanks for your lovely comment. x

  4. Lol! I know JC is a happy boy and I'm healthy despite my weight so I shouldn't care what he thinks!

  5. Ohh I am furious on your behalf Claire.  I was over 21 stone by the time I had the twins and yes that is not healthy and I do not advocate that but having met you I know you are nowhere near that size.  Not one medical professional mentioned it to me.

    Only you know what is right for you and if you manage to lose a bit of weight and feel happier for it the great but if you don't and you fall PG then be blessed.

    Mich x


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