“Don’t judge a book by its cover”, so the saying goes. But time after time during my ante-natal appointments I found that I was persistently judged by my ample cover…
Presumptive statements like “You need to cut back on the junk food”. Without actually asking about my diet first.
“You should be getting more exercise”. Again, without asking how much exercise I was already getting!
As soon as I found out I was pregnant I enrolled in Aqua Natal exercise classes twice a week, run by my local NHS service, and was pleased (and somewhat surprised) to discover that I actually had more energy, more stamina, and was seemingly fitter that a lot of the skinnier women in the pool with me.
Even I had made assumptions about myself. So perhaps I shouldn’t be so surprised when Health Care Professionals do the same…
What got me thinking about this was this article I read on Lauren Laverne’s ‘The Pool’ Website (which is sadly no more, but you can still read the article here): Why the BMI is just one more unhelpful figure for women.
This isn’t new news. Especially since scientists and doctors have been pondering the “Obesity Paradox” for a while now – that people in the BMI ‘overweight’ range, 25 to 30, may enjoy significantly lower mortality rates than their ‘normal weight’ counterparts.
Forgive me for linking to a health article in the Daily Fail, but for once, this one written by cardiologist Dr Carl Lavie is actually quite balanced, well put together, and helpful (if you can ignore the sensationalist headline).
What the science seems to show is that obesity in and of itself, while not necessarily ideal, is secondary to your level of fitness in determining how ‘healthy’ you are.
Feel free to remind your presumptive healthcare providers of this!
If I was being told the same unhelpful advice in ante-natal sessions now, I’d be fully prepared to challenge the speaker on their assumptions first. Trouble is, at the time, all I could do was mumble somewhat defensively that actually I was eating healthily and getting a reasonable amount of exercise…
Now I’d be a bit more confident at pointing out the blatant rudeness and frankly unscientific approach to advising more of something, or a change to something, without establishing a baseline first.
Also, as anyone who’s ever been to anything espousing the values of SMART goals – you’re much more likely to achieve something if it’s Specific, Measurable etc. I think a more targeted suggestion recommending increasing exercise to three sessions a week from the two I was already doing (having asked about that in the first place) would be far more person centred and motivating.
For the record, I’d really recommend Aqua Natal. I totally credit those sessions for the two incredibly easy, pop-a-pea-out-of-a-pod births I experienced, and no-one can see your wobbly bits in action!