Friday, August 30, 2013

"Obese and Pregnant"

I watched this special on TLC while I was pregnant (actually, I was "obese and pregnant"...da-da-DUM!!!). Even though I was feeling particularly vulnerable and hypochondriac-y in my state, this special was RIFE with BS. I was pretty upset with it because rather than be educational and show that anyone can have a healthy pregnancy (like I did), this program seemed to be one big scare tactic.

So naturally, when I saw they were playing it again this month, I decided to watch it and give you guys a play-by-play.

Right off the bat, they take the tone that women this heavy (just slightly heavier than I was at that stage) being pregnant is nothing short of a freak show.

Melba is 362 pounds in her last trimester. She already has kids. She has diabetes and was once at 490 pounds. She gained 90 pounds throughout the pregnancy, when obese women are told to gain no more than 15.

I was told the same thing when I was pregnant. I actually gained 33, 23 of which came off the first 2 weeks after delivery. First off, gaining only 15 pounds would mean actually losing weight to make room for the 20+ pounds of baby, placenta, extra blood, etc. Secondly, Melba obviously gained WAY too much during her pregnancy, and that's dangerous no matter WHAT your starting weight was. If they had presented her weight gain in that light (read: accurately), I wouldn't take offense...but they make it seem like she's in such danger because she was already big. Not necessarily the case. A 120 pound woman who gains 90 pounds in 9 months would be in the same danger and carry the same risk.

Christie took 2 years to conceive. They want you to believe its because of her weight, as if thin women never have trouble conceiving. She has PCOS, which lots of women have, regardless of weight.

Lastly, there's Mercedes. She has 2 older kids already and is nine months pregnant with her third. She's gained 200 pounds in the 17 years she's been married. She developed gestational diabetes in her second trimester.

In the next segment, we are reminded that Melba has gained almost 100 pounds during the pregnancy, and then show her going through a McDonald's drive through. Again, we're expected to be disgusted because this fat person is so big and still eating garbage...but I wonder (and I suspect that I know) if a slim woman would be judged the same way going through a drive through. This might be the one time in her whole pregnancy that she ate Mcdonald's, we have no way of knowing. Maybe a thinner woman eats that crap everyday, and her insides are a cesspool...but she wouldn't be judged as harshly just because she's not "fat". Good job sensationalizing, TLC.

In Christie's segment, they talk about how tragic it is that people are going to judge her because she's heavier and she dared to be pregnant. Meanwhile, ironically, this program is cementing that we should judge heavy pregnant women because since they dared to be pregnant and big, they are endangering their unborn children and are monsters. Right. No irony there.

Christie has lost 20 pounds throughout the pregnancy, and the baby is gaining just fine. Good for her, but this is happening because she was eating crap before and has decided during the pregnancy to eat wholesome foods. If you've done this all along, thin or not, you can expect a thriving child. However, the show is edited to seem that the only reason her pregnancy is going well is because she's on a diet. Lovely.

Mercedes is having complications, obviously, with her gestational diabetes. Mercedes is also 38 years old, which adds to complications. They only mention her age, not the fact that such a high age for gestation could also be the cause for her complications. They just focus on her weight.

Melba is 34, was a diabetic to start with, and has hypertension. Her baby is measuring much bigger than average, and the doctor says that it's due to BOTH her diabetes and her weight. Um, I was 318 pounds when I delivered, and my thriving, perfectly healthy son weighed 6 lbs, 9 oz at almost 39 weeks gestation. I call horseshit on the doctor. Diabetes in the mother will DEFINITELY affect the baby's size, but anyone can have diabetes, regardless of their weight.

Mercedes has an ultrasound at 38 weeks, and the baby is perfectly fine regardless of her gestational diabetes.

Now they're telling Melba that she needs an amnio to make sure her unborn daughter's lungs are fine. They need to deliver her immediately because if the baby stays in her, the baby could die. Why? Because of diabetes. That's the only explanation they give Melba, and terrified at the thought of her baby in danger, she gives in. Yay, scare tactics.

Christie had to have an induction after being 8 days overdue. She was given Cervadil and Pitocin (just like I was) because she's slow to dilate. Luckily for her, unlike me, she's not having contractions because she's not actually in labor.

Melba ends up having the amnio, and Dr. Douchebag is "surprised" to find that it wasn't as difficult as he thought it would be with all her extra fat. Swell. She's taken straight into a c-section. They make it seem like operating on Melba is akin to performing surgery on a concrete wall. Poor doctors are going to have to cut through sooooo much fat and skin, the poor things! Boohoo!

Mercedes naturally went into labor and had a perfectly healthy baby without an epidural in just a few short hours. The baby's blood sugar is perfect and there are no complications. LOOKIE THERE. Also, Mercedes discovers she doesn't have continued diabetes. Good news all around.

Melba has her c-section and her daughter is just fine. She weighs 6 lbs, 4 oz. The doctors has rushed her c-section because they had decided the baby was dangerously big and couldn't stay in a day longer. Oops. Good one, Dr. Douchebag. At least they're both fine in spite of the extra interventions.

Christie, however, with her uncomplicated pregnancy, is on day 2 of her induction. She gets an internal monitor (omg, that's just what happened to me!). Unfortunately, her baby goes into distress. She's rushed to a c-section and she has a perfect son.

So in the end, everyone was fine. No one died. No one was horribly disfigured. People were fat, pregnant, and had healthy children. Nothing out of the ordinary. Just lots of scary talk for no reason. I'm not saying that they didn't have complications and struggles, but I am saying that there's no reason to think that the complications were exclusively because of their weight. Bottom line is there's no reason to think that being obese means having complications anymore than being thin will mean a non-complicated pregnancy or delivery.

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