Plus Size, Pregnant & High Risk

1 Aug 2018

This pregnancy is very similar to my pregnancy with Willow when it comes to symptoms, but how I'm coping with it is very, very different. My baby bump isn't as obvious, due to being several stones heavier in weight than I was when I was pregnant with Willow. I'm 3 dress sizes bigger than I was when pregnant with Willow and that is largely down to a much bigger stomach; I piled on 6.5stone when pregnant with Willow and didn't lose any of that weight for 2 years.

A post about being plus size and high-risk whilst pregnant

At the new year, I told myself enough was enough and decided to crack on with the weight loss, but I had only lost 1 stone before finding out we were expecting this little baby, so I was still extremely overweight and much larger than I would like to have been when we conceived. I knew even before I made it to my booking appointment at 8 weeks that I would be classed as 'high risk' for this pregnancy, not just because of my weight, but because I had an emergency caesarean with Willow. Since then it's been quite the emotional rollercoaster and being high risk and under consultant led care has been daunting and at times, difficult for me to process.

The care you receive under both midwife and consultant led care will, of course, differ for each individual expectant parent and so this is purely my experience; I can only share the care I am receiving and how I am finding that care; others may have less or more appointments and will have different reasons for being given extra care.

I still see my midwife, although as this is my second pregnancy the appointments are less often than they were when I was pregnant with Willow. Due to being a high-risk pregnancy, I was also on a higher dose of Folic Acid until 13 weeks and have been given a higher dose of Vitamin D to take as well alongside my usual pregnancy vitamins (I've opted for Pregnacare again, which I used when pregnant with Willow).

For me, being under consultant led care means that I have more frequent hospital-based appointments, I'll be tested for gestational diabetes throughout this pregnancy like I was with Willow, but more frequently (I've already had one glucose tolerance test at 15 weeks with my second booked for 28 weeks). It also means that I have more scans to check baby is OK and growing well, with these scans becoming more frequent from 28 weeks and taking place every 4 weeks. After each scan, I also see my consultant, so these appointments for the scan and seeing the consultant can often take up to 4 hours with waiting times in between the two, always fun and interesting with a toddler in tow!

I've found it very hard to accept my body during this pregnancy. I'm still 4 stone over my pre-pregnancy weight with Willow, two dress sizes bigger too. It's harder to look at my growing bump, which to me just looks like a fat belly (esp when I'm not wearing my bump band which helps add shape to it) and feel any of the confidence I had with Willow. This is my body though and I don't want to spend my pregnancy not accepting it, I want to take photos to look back on because I know when the baby is here and my bump is gone, I'll miss it! I was never going to have a nice neat little bump, because I'm not a small mama. I'm plus size and that's all I can be right now! So here is my 22 weeks and 5 days bump. There's a baby in there, as big as an aubergine in fact and currently kicking the hell out of me, which is just a bit perfect really, isn't it? 🖤 . . . #lbloggers #pbloggers #plussizemama #plussizepregnancy #plusmommy #plussizemommy #secondpregnancy #22weeks #22weekspregnant #babybump #babynumber2 #pmuk #punkymoms
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Scans have, so far, been problem free. I have had scans at 7 weeks (to rule out an ectopic pregnancy), 12 weeks (for my dating scan), 18 weeks (due to worries over my scar) and 20 weeks (for my anomaly scan). Each scan, despite my very large tummy, has been done externally with no problems - I was a little worried I may need an internal exam with my 7-week scan because I was so early on as well as my 20-week scan, due to the sheer amount of fat around my middle. Although I did have to lift my fat up and out of the way as much as possible for the 12 and 20-week scans, with the latter being far more uncomfortable than my 20-week scan had been with Willow.

Whilst I haven't exactly been berated for being obese, the focus during my consultant appointments has mainly been on my weight and especially my BMI. I went into my first appointment really optimistic about having a VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarean) and using hypnobirthing to get into the right frame of mind, to be shot down pretty quickly with facts and figures about success rates for women with BMI's as high as mine.

To be quite honest, I've been entirely scared off of a VBAC and I do think scared off is the right way to describe it, because ultimately, women bigger than me have managed VBAC's with success, but being told I will end up with another emergency caesarean or that my caesarean scar is more likely to rupture and put both my life and babies life at risk, is a pretty scary thought. It's simply not a risk I feel comfortable taking - even though the risks associated with caesareans are anything but small.

That said, the consultants I have seen haven't chastised me for my weight, they have just been blunt about the facts, which I have gone on to research in my own time and the statistics for women with BMI's as high as mine really are low for successful VBACs. So, although I would have loved to have gone ahead with the idea of a VBAC and not had to go through the recovery of major abdominal surgery again, I have, for the meantime, accepted that a planned caesarean is the more realistic way for me to birth this baby, no matter how hard emotionally that is for me to accept. 

There are a lot of factors you have to consider when you're plus size, pregnant and high risk, this merely covers the more basic and probably more common aspects of my care. There are a few things I plan to discuss in more detail in future posts, such as dealing with extra gestational diabetes tests and the way my weight changes are being approached during this pregnancy, but for now, I wanted to share my feelings on being a high-risk pregnancy.

I would have much preferred to have lost the 'baby weight' before expecting another little one and avoiding the extra care (particularly because I feel, as I have yet to encounter any problems with this pregnancy associated with my weight, that it is an unnecessary expense to the NHS), but this is my situation for this pregnancy and the upsides of seeing my baby more often with frequent scans do lessen the blow of being high-risk.

If you are also high-risk or have had a high-risk pregnancy in the past, I would love for you to share your experiences with me.