It was perhaps a mistake, shortly before the birth of my daughter, to write an article on being fat and pregnant for Easy Living Magazine. Not because I didn't strongly believe the article should be written - it was about the one size fits all approach to fat women when it comes to a failure to conceive and the determination to blame this on weight when weight is only an issue here if it prevents ovulation - but because it meant speaking to experts who were mostly all doom and gloom about pregnant women.
"Fat women who are pregnant," one obstetrician told me, "are much more likely to die in childbirth." "Gulp," I said, "because I'm rather large and 38 weeks pregnant." "I'm sure you'll be fine," she said, unconvincingly.
The thing is, something I don't think non fat people understand, no amount of telling us something is dangerous is going to sate our desire for a baby. I don't know what odds they would have to have given me against my survival to stop me trying for a family but given that in my trying to conceive madness I genuinely felt that I didn't see the point of life without children, I suspect they would have had to be pretty low, and I imagine my husband would have stopped it before me.
Still, I couldn't bring myself to watch 'One Born Every Minute: Fatties' last night as I enter my third trimester with number two, though I recorded it to keep for a moment when I feel particularly vulnerable, when I shall hunker down to watch it with a big bowl of ice cream and a mansize pack of tissues. They didn't call it that, you might cry, and no, they didn't, but they might as well have, as the euphemism of 'One Born Every Minute: Plus Size Mums' is really no better.
I wrote an email to the hospital's head midwife after the birth of my daughter. Stopping short of a formal complaint it offered some friendly advice. Don't make fat women feel shit by sending them to the special fat clinic midwife, it said, if when you get busy you say oh sod it, see a normal midwife today. Either stigmatise us and follow it through with consistency that we actually need someone specially trained to look at us pitifully and ask how much we exercise, or stop bloody stigmatising us.
This time round I'm more confident. "I'll make an appointment for you to see the midwife who specialises in nutrition," my midwife said at my booking in appointment. "No thanks", I replied, "I'm not fat because I'm ignorant, I'm fat because I'm greedy." 'Refused' she duly wrote next to the appointment in my notes.
Nor are fat women allowed to use the birth centre, where women push out babies while sitting on space hoppers with whale music in the background. I don't mind this - I'm an interventionist when it comes to most things, be it world peace or birth - but I know plenty of people who do. On the other hand, I found the idea that I needed a pre birth meeting with the anaesthetist in case I wanted an epidural (I did) a bit insulting. I swear my friend's right that they are just checking you have a spine. Turns out that the same anaestheist looked after me while I had a (non fat related) post birth op for a retained placenta. "Hi", he said, "we've not met before." I wasn't too out of it, or, ahem, spineless, to put him straight.
I'm no evidence denier. I'm sure there are more dangers to fat women in pregnancy and birth than to non fat women. But my guess is the most common danger is to our mental health, when we're treated differently, told to worry and made to feel, ironically, incredibly small.