“You’ll Die on the Table”

The Well-Rounded Mama has a post up today recounting stories she’s heard of fat women being told that if they get pregnant, they’ll die in delivery or shortly thereafter, that they have no business having children at their size, and if they don’t die in childbirth, their babies will. All because of their weight.

To me, this is one of the most monstrous kinds of fat bias. I wonder how many fat women have been scared out of having a baby at all because of treatment like this. I know that many fat women have been scared into Weight Loss Surgery with arguments like these, and that many others simply decided long ago not to even consider having children.

I also think that this has to do with doctors trying to become the gatekeepers of who they think should procreate and who should not. If they don’t think you “deserve” to have a baby or if they don’t want to see your fat genes passed along to future generations, they subtly or overtly discourage you from children.

Check out the rest of the post. It’ll make your blood boil.

Leave a comment


  1. Karen

     /  June 9, 2008

    Thanks for this post! I would love to see more talk about this issue within the fatosphere. Although I consider myself an intelligent and savvy person, I actually didn’t even dare to think I could have children until I say fat pregnant women posting on lj’s fatshionista. It was like an a-ha moment for me – “Wait, I can do that?!?!?!” The message had been clear since I was 10; lose weight or you won’t be able to have children.

  2. Embi

     /  June 10, 2008

    My wonderful nutritionist (met through a Healthy at Every Size program at my city’s public hospital) told us that the reason many doctors warn larger women against pregnancy is more to do with politics, laziness and resources, rather than health. Apparently the anaesthetists hate the extra work involved in calculating drugs for and monitoring larger people (please remember, these are amongst the best-paid specialists in the hospital, so don’t feel too guilty about giving them some extra work) and there is only a limited amount of larger-sized machinery, beds, etc for them to use on larger patients. She really went in to bat for me when a doctor tried to say I was too big to have a successful pregnancy, pointing out that I had just as good blood pressure, insulin, cholesterol, etc results as most of the women he saw.

  3. There’s a TV programme on British TV tomorrow night about this very subject – I’ll try to remember to watch and report back

  4. wellroundedmama

     /  June 12, 2008

    Thanks for the shout-out to my new blog, Kate!

    You know, if the anesthetists object to the extra work involved in treating women of size, there’s an easy fix to that. Don’t hire them!! There’s no reason they have to be involved in most of these births.

    Natural childbirth is better for both mother and baby, and it really is possible for fat women to birth normally and naturally. Many of us give birth at home and avoid the anesthesia question altogether; others give birth at the hospital with size-friendly providers and choose whether or not to have anesthesia involved.

    Now, if a life-threatening complication were to arise, of course the anesthetists would need to be available, on-call, as they are for everyone else. And of course, if a fat woman WANTS an epidural in labor, she should absolutely have the right to have that.

    Bottom line, anesthetists need expertise in treating people of size. It’s unethical to try and rob us of parenthood just so they don’t have to “deal” with us.

    But it must be said that if the doctors weren’t inducing and sectioning fat women at appallingly high rates, there would be much less need for anesthestists to be so involved.

    The answer is for more fat women to become empowered and knowledgeable about childbirth….and to use interventions like epidurals and cesareans only when truly medically needed or if they have carefully weighed ALL the pros and cons first. They should NEVER be coerced or manipulated or scared into them.

    -the wellroundedmama

  5. Jackie

     /  December 21, 2008

    Just goes to show you, that there is a clear element of Eugenics involved with fat prejudice.

  6. I know I’m responding to a post zillions of years old (zillions if you translate internet time into real time 🙂 ), but what strikes me in reading this post and the links is the parallels between this aspect of fatphobia and the way that some ob-gyns (and many others) discriminate against people with disabilities who want to be parents. Women with disabilities who are visibly pregnant often experience even strangers in the street, as well as doctors, accusing them of being selfish and irresponsible in becoming pregnant. Or wanting to keep their child. I once read a story on the internet by a blind woman who had one ob gyn outright refuse to give her any prenatal care because she didn’t think a blind woman should be having a baby in the first place. The woman found another ob-gyn to provide her with this care and went on to have a healthy child … but she shouldn’t have face this discrimination in the first place.

    All of us whose bodies (or brains) are “different” seem to face certain types of issues in common. Makes me wonder if there are ways that the fat acceptance movement and the disability rights movement could coordinate somehow around the particular issues that are shared in common.


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