When you decide you want to get pregnant when you’re in a bigger body, you likely have so many questions running through your mind. I’ve put together this list of commonly asked questions to put your mind at ease and dispel the myths around getting pregnant in a bigger body.
Do fat people have healthy pregnancies?
Yes, 100% absolutely!!! Fat folks have been having healthy pregnancies for thousands of years. Fatness isn’t new and it doesn’t mean that you are unhealthy.
There is some research that shows that fat people experience higher rates of complications during pregnancy but none of this research takes into account the very real (and measurable) impact that being in a bigger body has on how you are treated as you navigate fertility and pregnancy spaces. You may be denied care, judged and shamed about your body or given advice that is not based on evidence-based medicine, all of which can impact your physical and mental health.
There is no reason to believe that you will have any issues with your pregnancy based on your size.
Does obesity increase the risks of pregnancy complications?
Obesity is a stigmatising word that medicalises the experience of being fat. I am using it here as this is the question folks most commonly ask]
Having a higher BMI can increase the likelihood of complications during pregnancy but it’s much more complicated the narrative of “fat is bad, thin is good”.
There is some evidence that shows that as your BMI increases so does the rate of pregnancy complications, such as pregnancy loss, gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia. But not all the evidence supports this. There has also been no biological mechanism that has been found that explains this possible link.
None of the research into risk of pregnancy complication for folks in bigger bodies takes into account the stigma that fat folks face during pregnancy, which has a measurable impact on their physical and mental health, including increasing inflammation and stress hormones.
It’s important to understand what the potential risks are so that you can make a fully informed decision about your healthcare based on the current information available, not forced into a decision based on your clinician’s anti-fat bias.
Is it hard to get pregnant if women have irregular periods?
Having irregular periods can make getting pregnant more of a challenge but there are ways you can monitor your cycle that will help you understand the best time to have penis in vagina sex or try insemination.
In a 28 day cycle, ovulation tends to happen around day 14, but when your cycle is irregular, it makes it really hard to guess when ovulation is.
The most import piece of information to remember is that it is usually the first half of your cycle (from the first day of flow when you bleed until ovulation) that is irregular. Once you’ve ovulated, it will usually be 10-14 days until menstruation happens again.
Knowing this information means that you can track what happens in your body over a few months and use that information to see if your body gives you any kind of signs around ovulation.
Common signs include breast tenderness, increased energy, increased libido, small sharp pains in your abdomen, a cervical mucus that looks like egg white.
There are also tools that you can use to help track ovulation such as ovulation predictor kits (OPKs) that measure a hormone called lutenising hormone (LH) that rises just before ovulation or a device like the Mira that tracks LH and other hormones to help you predict ovulation.
What is the connection between PCOS and fertility?
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a really common condition that impacts folks of all genders and their reproductive health.
You are usually diagnosed with PCOS if you have two out of three symptoms from: irregular periods, increased testosterone (measured using a blood test) or visible multiple follicles on your ovaries (seen using an ultrasound scan). You cannot be diagnosed with PCOS by sight alone. If your doctor looks at your body and decides you have PCOS without any diagnostic testing, they are not practising medicine.
Whilst we don’t fully understand the extent of PCOS, there are some ways in which it is thought to impact fertility.
The most common one is through the difficulty of timing penis in vagina sex or insemination if you don’t know when you ovulate.
There is also some research that shows that PCOS may affect egg quality.
Can you get pregnant if you are obese?
[Obesity is a stigmatising word that medicalises the experience of being fat. I am using it here as this is the question folks most commonly ask]
Being in a bigger body tells me nothing about your ability to get pregnant. Folks in bigger bodies get pregnant all the time.
In our culture our healthcare systems are built on the foundation that fat equals unhealthy but this idea comes from racist origins and stigmatises fat folks.
There is absolutely no reason to believe that the size of your body will impact your ability to get pregnant.
How much weight should I lose to prepare to get pregnant?
You do not have to lose weight in order to get pregnant.
Folks of all size bodies are capable of getting pregnant and people of all size bodies may experience complications getting pregnant.
Cutting out foods and restriction your calories can actually have a negative impact on your overall health and more recent studies (here and here) show that weight loss doesn’t impact your ability to get pregnant.