Pregnancy is an exciting time for many parents, and yet, it is also one where they feel the most vulnerable. There is no set standard for how a pregnant belly should look aside from what is viewed in the media. Plus-size bodies can have just as healthy an experience during their pregnancy and childbirth as anyone else.
However, finding supportive care can be a challenge for plus-size people, and many often avoid care because they fear being shamed by their providers. The experience can be traumatizing and create a birthing experience far from what it should be.
Doulas have a unique support structure that allows them to provide the additional support that plus-size parents need. Not only that, but they are also crucial in delivering the acceptance and encouragement they may not find in their regular provider. Here are a few ways plus-size-friendly doulas can help support plus-size clients.
Doulas can help clients understand their birth options – Doctors are quick to assess plus-size pregnancies as high risk and often steer the birthing options toward a “safer” delivery that often ends in a c-section. The risks plus size people face is the same as any other pregnancy, and doulas are prepared to work with any condition. With great care and planning, a plus-size birth has many options open to them. They should feel comfortable knowing that they can confidently plan their birth how they want with a motivated and supportive doula who is knowledgeable and prepared to handle any situation that can arise.
They can help create a safe, positive environment for the birth – With the heightened anxiety and vulnerability, a doula can help clients work through any stresses they may feel about who is in the room with them during the birth and where the birth can take place. Doulas are the emotional support structure to help talk through those fears and help reassure plus-size clients that the birth is their own to plan and should be a calming environment that caters to their needs.
Doulas will help navigate the many misconceptions about plus-size pregnancies and births – Many plus-size people are often told they are high risk and are likely to be diagnosed with conditions such as gestational diabetes based solely on their BMI. A person’s weight does not predetermine their conditions within pregnancy or even outside. Many people are healthy and active at any weight. Doulas are trained to focus on being in tune with how a person feels and their needs. Your clients will know their bodies the best and will know when something is off.
Doulas provide an essential connection to help plus-size parents navigate the complexities of giving birth and the intense emotions and fears of childbirth. With plus-size clients, there is often a lot more vulnerability and stigma they must work through and may need more support due to the ignorance and judgment they face unfairly. Doulas can provide emotional support partnered with education to help plus-size people with the birthing experience of their dreams.
Plus Size Birth is a great resource for both doulas and expecting birthers to find evidence-based information.
Christine Herrera helps people become amazing birth professionals.