An expectant mother claims she was FAT SHAMED by a midwife who allegedly told her to lose weight at 21 weeks pregnant
Mum-of-four Karene Eggleton said she felt ‘happy and healthy’ going for a routine checkup at her local antenatal clinic
She was left feeling ‘greatly ashamed and embarrassed’ after a midwife allegedly told her she needed to ‘lose weight and go on a diet’.
The 44-year-old from Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, Australia said she usually weighs a modest 9st 12lbs [63kg] and stands at 5ft 1inches, meaning her BMI sits at 25 – just over 2lbs [1kg] from the healthy weight range set by the national guidelines.
The size 12 accountant claims she was told this information by a midwife at the Wagga Wagga Base Hospital during a checkup at their antenatal clinic last month
She added that this was the ‘first time ever’ that her weight had been raised as an issue during any of her prior three pregnancies.
Karene said: “On top of my regular visits to my normal doctor, I also need to visit the antenatal clinic at my local hospital each month, as this is considered a geriatric pregnancy due to my age.
“There was a midwife there who was training a student nurse. I stepped on the scales and did a few other tests.
“She then told me that my BMI was quite high, and that I needed to lose weight and go on a diet.
“She then referred me to a ‘get healthy’ program, which I was told would teach me how to diet and exercise properly in order to lose weight while pregnant.
“I was really shocked. It wasn’t handled sensitively, I felt great shame and quite confused as I feel fantastic.
“I’ve never been one to get wrapped up in body issues and things like that, but at that moment I felt so embarrassed and self-conscious.
“I’ve been doing everything I can to ensure my baby is healthy. I eat clean, I exercise daily and do yoga once a week to prepare for the birth.
“I’ve been really healthy and have passed all my pregnancy tests with flying colours. There is absolutely nothing wrong with me or the baby and everything is going along smoothly.
“But then to be told that I need to go on a diet and lose weight, I felt like I’ve done something wrong. I began questioning myself.
“I’ve been weighed throughout all my pregnancies and I think it’s a really important tool to monitor how a pregnant woman’s health is going.
“But I’ve never been told that I’m overweight throughout any of my pregnancies.
“It’s only this one midwife that had ever mentioned my weight.
“I didn’t even think it was safe to diet while pregnant. I’ve gained 9lbs (6kgs) and I’m halfway through my pregnancy, so I think that’s pretty normal.
“I understand if you go into pregnancy being obese or morbidly obese. As in that case there are certainly risks and that conversation really needs to be had.
“But I really don’t feel that I’m in that spectrum. My BMI normally is at 25, and I’m only around 1kg away from being in the healthy weight range.”
Karene revealed that she has suffered from anxiety and depression in the past and believes that being told to lose weight during pregnancy could easily affect mothers who might struggle with mental health.
The mum added that she would not be taking the midwife’s advice and instead plans on ‘relaxing’ and enjoying the rest of her pregnancy.
She said: “There is already so much shaming and guilt in motherhood as it is, and there are so many pressures that new mums have to face.
“We don’t need the extra pressure and shaming.
“It’s hard enough for women to deal with their body changing through pregnancy and gaining those extra kilograms.
“It’s really damaging. I’ve battled anxiety and depression in the past, but throughout this pregnancy I’ve been feeling great both physically and mentally.
“If I wasn’t so strong right now, it could be easy for someone like me with mental health issues to let that consume them.
“When you’re dealing with morning sickness, I think it is important to just eat what you can.
“It’s awful enough without having to worry about being on a diet and counting calories.
“Unless absolutely necessary, there is no reason to add this kind of fear and shame to pregnant women who are already stressed about everything.
“I feel gorgeous, glowing and healthy. I’m just going to relax and enjoy the rest of this incredible journey.”
Jill Ludford, Chief Executive of Murrumbidgee Local Health District, said: “Get Healthy in Pregnancy is a NSW Health initiative offered to all pregnant women over the age of 16 and it is up to them if they wish to take part.
“It is not a weight loss program but aims to assist women to get healthy during pregnancy.
“Get Healthy in Pregnancy offers a free, confidential coaching service to assist women to eat healthily during pregnancy, get active, gain or maintain a healthy amount of weight during pregnancy, not drink alcohol during pregnancy and return to their pre-pregnancy weight.”