I was weight-shamed by a nurse during my pregnancy

I was weight-shamed by a nurse during my pregnancy

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I was about 26 weeks along in my healthy pregnancy and at the doctor’s office for a routine appointment when the nurse practitioner said she had something serious to discuss with me.

I was splayed out on the bed in the exam room, my profound belly pointed to the ceiling, my legs slightly akimbo. A vulnerable position, physically but emotionally as well. Every visit to the doctor is a leap of faith, a wish made, a hope for the best.

I had no idea what the nurse was about to say. My baby was moving and kicking with regularity. I was eating well and felt terrific. In fact, I had biked to the doctor’s office for that very visit. Everything seemed normal.

“You’ve gained some weight,” she said.

“Yes, I have,” I said.

“Well, you’ve gained weight,” the nurse repeated.

“And …?”

“You should watch it,” she said. “You did so well over the holidays and didn’t gain anything, but now you’re gaining weight again.”

I pointed out that I was growing another body in mine. Weight happens.

That’s when the conversation went from mild concern and made a sharp detour toward condescending.

“You know, if I have a big dinner, the next day I run five miles to burn it off,” the nurse said. “It’s not that hard.”

“I understand how calories work,” I said.

“Clearly you don’t,” she replied.

What the nurse didn’t realize was that I am intimately acquainted with calories – and I have been ever since age 5, when my mom started charting my weekly weigh-ins. A piece of notebook paper with a homemade chart hung on the back of the bathroom door, and every Monday my mom watched as I stepped on the scale. She then recorded my weight on the paper.

My late mom was seriously misguided but had good intentions, I think. My mom struggled as an adult to maintain a certain body type, and I imagine she wanted me to have an easier time of it. So she gave me Tab to drink instead of milk and urged me to eat the “skinny” menu items at restaurants, rather than the normal entrees. I’ve owned so many nutrition guides over the years, I can rattle off the calories for practically anything.

What the nurse practitioner also didn’t know was that when I got pregnant, I declared my independence from the scale. For the first time in decades, I decided I didn’t need to be obsessive about my weight, and more importantly, it wasn’t healthy to focus on that when I had other things happening in my body.

I knew I would be gaining weight – what did the numbers matter?

So I stopped looking. (That goes for doctor visits too. During the weigh-in, I made it clear that I didn’t want to know my weight— so a nurse recorded the number while I read posters on the wall about HPV.)

“You know you’re just going to have more weight to lose later,” the nurse practitioner added during that weight-shaming visit.

But the thing is, I didn’t care. Pregnancy was the first time in my adult life that I truly felt in tune with my body, and I listened to it. I ate what I craved. I exercised because it felt good. I took up space in the world, and I was proud to have a big, juicy belly.

To this day, I still don’t know how substantial my weight gain was or why the nurse practitioner found it problematic that particular week. I don’t think it was more than a few pounds, because my doctor never spoke to me about it, none of the other nurses ever said a word, and my pregnancy proceeded in a healthy manner until I gave birth to a 7-pound boy.

I have since lost the pregnancy weight, but I still hold the grudge: my body and my baby have taken our copay elsewhere.

Were you weight-shamed during your pregnancy?

Opinions expressed by parent contributors are their own.

Watch the video: Opening Up About My TRAUMATIC BIRTH: Birth Plans, High Risk Pregnancy, Shame, u0026 More (February 2023).

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