In this episode of “Fat and Fertile,” we explore the concept of fat positive fertility and discuss the importance of moving away from restrictive diets and weight loss, advocating for fertility care without BMI limitations, and creating a nurturing environment for individuals in bigger bodies who want to navigate getting pregnant. .
The start of Fat Positive Fertility
I’m starting a new series on the podcast called Fat Fertility 101 and today we’re going to be looking at what Fat Positive Fertility actually is!
My hope is that it will help you reframe your own journey to getting pregnant and demanding the care that you absolutely deserve.
Alright, let me take you back to the beginning of how Fat Positive Fertility came to be. It all started around 2018 when I began using the title Fat Positive Fertility Coach. Honestly, I had never heard anyone talk about Fat Positive Fertility before that, but as soon as I started using those words, it felt like a lightbulb moment for me. It was empowering, and it helped me embrace this new approach to fertility.
Initially, I worked as an acupuncturist, specialising in helping people who wanted to get pregnant. You see, I had my own journey with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), which led me to this line of work. But as time went on, I realized that I wanted to offer more than just acupuncture sessions. I wanted to provide people with additional tools and skills to support their fertility journey, which is why I trained as an integrative fertility coach.
Then, something pivotal happened. After going through my own experience of getting pregnant in a bigger body and becoming a mum, I had an epiphany. I didn’t want my child to grow up hearing me talk negatively about my body or food. I became hyper-aware of everything around body image and food, and I reached a breaking point. I was done with dieting and trying to shrink my body. So, I made two promises to myself: I would never weigh myself again, and I would never diet again. That was about nine years ago, and I’ve held true to those promises, although I won’t lie, it hasn’t always been an easy journey.
This awakening led me to explore alternative approaches to fertility that went against the norm. The more I dug into the research and learned about the harmful effects of diets and the arbitrary BMI restrictions, the more determined I became. I couldn’t continue talking about fertility in the same old way, especially when it didn’t align with my personal experiences and the evidence I uncovered. And so, I decided to embrace the label of a fat positive fertility coach, despite the societal pressures to be thin.
It’s been a wild ride since then. I’ve delved deep into research, unraveling layers and biases, challenging the status quo, and aiming to uncover the truth about fertility and fat bodies. My passion to help those navigating bias and limited healthcare systems has only grown stronger. I want to figure it all out and support those who are on this journey to get pregnant. So, that’s how I got to where I am today, proudly using the words “fat positive” and working to create a safe and empowering space for fat folks who want to embark on their own fertility journey.
What does Fat Positive Fertility actually mean?
Fat Positive Fertility is all about making sure that fat people can get the fertility care they need, without being limited by their body size. It means you should have access to everything necessary to get pregnant, no matter your weight. And here’s the important part: you should be treated with respect and given care that actually understands your experiences. None of that cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all approach.
What it really boils down to is that your care should be tailored to you, based on evidence and what’s best for your unique situation. It means you have the freedom to make decisions about your body and your health without being pressured to lose weight or go on a diet. It’s frustrating how often fat folks are told that they can only access care if they shrink themselves. That’s just not right.
As a fat positive fertility coach, my role is to support people who want to get pregnant without focusing on weight loss or dieting. Instead, we look at health-promoting behaviors that you’re comfortable with. And let me be clear: you don’t have to change your body for anything. My aim is to fight against the stigma and biases that you may face because of your size. The goal is to dismantle the systems and structures that prevent you from accessing the care you deserve. It goes way beyond body positivity; it’s about creating a world where everyone can get the support they need, regardless of their body size. That’s what fat positive fertility means to me.
The FAT+ve Fertility Framework
The FAT+ve fertility framework has four key parts, and it took me a while to develop it into something truly beautiful. Let’s dive into it!
The “F” in FAT+ve is all about formulating your health plan. We work together to create small, actionable steps that support your well-being and health without involving diets or weight loss. It’s about finding what feels good and supportive to you, based on the evidence and your own lived experience. Your version of health matters!
Moving on to the “A,” which stands for advocacy. We focus on teaching you how to advocate for yourself in various settings, whether it’s with healthcare providers, work colleagues, or friends. Society conditions us, especially those assigned female at birth, to be obedient and follow instructions without questioning. But here, we learn the skills of self-advocacy, how to set strong boundaries, and meet our own needs. It’s about influencing the care we receive and ensuring our voices are heard.
Now, let’s talk about the “T,” which is all about trusting yourself. We explore tools and techniques to help you relearn how to trust your body. Deep down, you already have that innate ability, but societal conditioning often leads us to ignore our body’s signals, like hunger cues and needs. We work on reconnecting with ourselves and listening to our bodies so that we can make choices based on the valuable information they provide.
Finally, we have the “+ve” part of FAT+ve. It’s not about toxic positivity or empty phrases. It’s about building positive beliefs in our ability to get pregnant. We develop a toolbox of strategies to support our mental health and cultivate beliefs that we are worthy, capable, and deserving of support. Society often teaches us the opposite, but we challenge those negative narratives and embrace the truth of our capacity to conceive and have a healthy pregnancy.
That’s what the Fat Positive fertility framework is all about! It guides everything I do, and it addresses the specific needs of fat people who face biases within the healthcare system. It’s a powerful approach that empowers and supports you on your journey.
Why you might want to work with a Fat Positive Fertility Coach
Let’s talk about why you might consider working with a fat positive fertility coach. There are a few good reasons why you’d want to explore this approach or learn more about it. First, if you’re tired of the cycle of dieting and weight loss that hasn’t been helpful for you in the past, if it has led to disordered eating or negative experiences, then fat positive fertility can offer you a different path. It moves away from the focus on weight loss and embraces a more holistic approach.
Second, if you’re looking for someone who truly understands the unique challenges that fat individuals face when it comes to fertility, then working with a fat positive fertility coach is the way to go. This work is specifically tailored to address the hurdles and biases that fat folks encounter along their fertility journey. It’s about navigating those challenges with empathy, understanding, and expertise.
Lastly, if you’re ready to let go of the harmful mindset that involves hating your body into submission, then fat positive fertility is definitely for you. We shift the blame and shame away from you and direct it towards the systems and structures that hinder your access to support. You should never feel ashamed or guilty because of your size. Instead, we focus on empowering you, building self-compassion, and finding a better way to care for yourself that honors your body and well-being.
So, if you’re seeking an approach that prioritizes your mental and physical health without the harmful effects of diet culture, if you want someone who understands your unique experiences, and if you’re ready to embrace self-acceptance and let go of the blame game, then fat positive fertility is the perfect fit for you.
The impact of working in a Fat Positive way
Working in a fat positive way can have a significant impact on various aspects of your well-being. Firstly, it creates a safe and supportive environment that reduces your stress load. Stress is a natural physiological response, but prolonged exposure to stress can negatively affect our bodies. Being in a society that stigmatizes fatness can add to our stress levels. By reimagining how we see ourselves as fat individuals and embracing a positive mindset, we can reduce the stress on our bodies and allow them to heal and replenish.
Working in a fat positive way also helps combat feelings of isolation. Many people feel hesitant to share their experiences of trying to conceive in a bigger body due to past negative encounters and judgment. This isolation can make us believe that we’re the only ones going through this journey. However, a fat positive approach aims to build community and connect you with others who have faced similar challenges. Knowing that you’re not alone and having a supportive network can make a significant difference in your fertility journey.
Finally, working in a fat positive way enhances fertility. By shifting our focus away from dieting and weight loss, we can nourish our bodies on multiple levels. This includes providing the necessary nutrients and fuel that our bodies need. Dieting often restricts us to the bare minimum, while our bodies thrive when consistently fueled and nourished. When our bodies feel safe and well-nourished, it increases the likelihood of successful conception and a healthy pregnancy.
Let’s do a quick recap of everything we’ve covered today. Fat positive fertility is all about ensuring that you can access the care you need without being limited by your BMI. It’s about having the freedom to make decisions about your body and health without being forced into weight loss and dieting. The fat positive fertility framework focuses on meeting the needs of fat individuals navigating fertility. It involves formulating a health plan that doesn’t involve weight loss and dieting, advocating for your fertility with healthcare professionals, trusting in your body’s capabilities, and building positive beliefs in your ability to get pregnant.
If you’re looking to give up dieting and want to work with someone who truly understands the challenges faced by fat individuals in this journey, then a fat positive fertility coach is the right choice for you. It’s about finding a better way to care for yourself, one that doesn’t involve hating yourself into submission. By working in a fat positive way, you can reduce your stress levels, alleviate feelings of isolation, and increase your chances of getting pregnant. This is achieved through nurturing your body with proper nutrition, fueling it in a way that supports fertility, and creating a sense of safety and ease in your life.
I hope this podcast has been helpful in giving you a better understanding of what fat positive fertility means and how it can make a difference.