My Body Isn’t Broken: A Plus Size Pregnancy Story

Jen Mclellan Pregnancy

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On January 4th 2010, my husband, Chris, and I found out we were expecting our first child and thus began our almost yearlong journey of becoming parents. We had decided the month we conceived to stop trying and focus on getting weight off. While I love my curvy hips, they were fitting into size 24 jeans, and I assumed the medical community was going to label me as high risk. 

After discovering you’re pregnant I’d say all women, whether this is an expected pregnancy or not, go through many waves of emotions. Being overweight and pregnant you’re placed into certain stereotypes. Assumptions are made that you’ll get gestational diabetes or need to have a C-section. I made a promise to myself that I had never allowed my weight to define me and I wasn’t going to start now. 

In February, I enrolled in my first ever group exercise class that quickly became a new obsession of mine: water aerobics. I started researching everything to eat and not to eat when you’re pregnant. I simplified things by just staying away from most processed foods and all the no-no’s of pregnancy like no alcohol. Yes, I occasionally gave into cravings like salt & vinegar chips, but over all I ate better than I had in my entire life. 

On my very first prenatal visit I started off with the obvious, “I’m plus size, what are your concerns?” Thankfully my OB-GYN was kind and just gave me the usual, “You’re only 30 and healthy besides the weight so don’t gain more than 15 -20 lbs. and you should be fine.”

A few months later we hired a wonderful doula to provide me with some extra physical, emotional, and educational support. When she learned about my desire to have a natural childbirth, she introduced my husband and I to the midwifery model of care. At my weight I had a 50% chance of ending up with a C-section and I was doing everything within my power to prevent that from occurring. The first hospital midwifery program we interviewed had a 6% C-section rate and we immediately knew that was the place for me to be.      

Our instincts proved to be correct and we fell in love with our midwife. Rather than the 15 minutes we got with my OB-GYN, our appointments with my midwife were always at least 45 minutes. She would answer any questions we had and eased our concerns. She was the very first care provider in my entire life that made me feel as if my body wasn’t broken. Between my husband, doula, and midwife I knew I had the perfect birth team!  

Over the next few months I continued with water aerobics and a healthy diet. I kept my promise to myself and blew all of those plus size pregnancy stereotypes out of the water. I never incurred any risks and even lost 18 pounds. 

All of my hard work was put to the test on August 24th when I went into labor. Sixteen hours of natural labor transformed me from the woman I had always been to the mother I will always be. One of the most powerful moments during my transformation was when I was ready to push. My doula simply and yet profoundly said, “Listen to your body.” I completely relinquished control to my body and it was so empowering! I will no longer be ashamed of a body that can do something so magnificent.

My body isn’t broken. My body is amazing!

About the Author

Jen Mclellan

Jen McLellan is a writer and childbirth educator who advocates for plus size women. She promotes positive information to empower healthy decision-making during pregnancy, shares tips for embracing your body, and laughs at the adventures of motherhood within her blog .

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