What were you worried about at your first antenatal appointment? The health of your baby? Whether those two faint lines really meant you were pregnant or whether some mistake had been made? How you’d cope with morning sickness and tiredness?
I was worried about all those things too, I imagine everyone is, but there was one other thing that drew heavily on my thoughts. One other thing that made me fidget with nervousness while I waited in the surgery feigning interest in a not-often seen copy of House and Garden Magazine.
One other thing that admittedly is difficult to admit as it sounds so trivial, so flippant, but I wonder, years on if I would actually feel the same if time constricted and I was there right now.
Would the doctor want to weight me?
That’s what occupied my mind.
How would this pregnancy appointment thing work I wondered. Would there be weekly weigh-ins to see how the baby was progressing? Would I be donning a hospital gown and stepping on a scale on a regular basis in front of a medical professional?
The idea of it made my already off- feeling stomach constrict.
It was, you see, a scenario very familiar to me and not one I was keen to revisit.
I spent years battling an eating disorder so stepping on scales was nothing new.
A decade before I was sitting in that waiting room, scales were something I saw as an essential part of my life. They were either a conduit to success or a deep tunnel towards failure, each number a victory or a deep disappointment.
They were an obsession.
When I was in my 20’s as a resident inpatient in an eating disorder program the scales became a tri-weekly event to dread. A time to plot and plan around. A time to make sure you met a goal, however hollow it made you feel and however much water you had to drink the night before to get there. A number with so much meaning it earned you status. If it had stayed the same or lowered the other residents were in awe, if it had increased you were meant to feel you’d achieved something, you were headed towards “normality” but it was difficult acceptance.
Even as you edged towards an agreed upon number deep down it taunted you, other numbers beckoning you, seducing you into their chasm.
Finally after years of this, after treatment, after failure, after more treatment and recovery the numbers on a scale became something that just needed to not exist for me.
I had outwitted the lure of them and part of that was simply not acknowledging them. Part of recovery for me meant not knowing.
I was last weighed three years before I sat in that waiting room, the idea that I would be weighed once more was terrifying.
Terrifying for both me and my baby.
A part of me, a hidden part, didn’t want to be back in the gaining game. It was exhausting, life had been stable, normal and however 'recovered' I was, and I was, but yet still the prospect of getting bigger was frightening, it held ghosts of past fears.
Overwhelmingly I was excited about the journey I was about to embark on, I was going to be a mother, I was making a new life who wouldn't be thrilled, overjoyed.
I just didn’t want to know how much weight I gained while I did it.
There was also concern for my baby. By then I knew the importance of eating healthily especially while pregnant and I was concerned of falling into the lure of restricting food and harming my unborn baby.
So before I went to the doctor I did what every mother-to be does, I consulted Dr Google and what I met was outrage. Outrage at thought that I wouldn’t be weighed, ridule and outright anger that I cared more about myself than my baby. From Facebook groups to online chats at every turn I was told that “they” would make me do this, that “they" said it was for the best and that “they” would give me no choice.
Turns outs “they” were wrong.
Luckily for me my obstetrician hadn’t met anyone from this mysterious group of experts called “they.” He was understanding and said it that measuring weight gain was only one method of keeping check on a mother-to-bes pregnancy.
I have three children now Three healthy pregnancies and three delicious babies. They were all born on the small side but within a healthy range and to this day I am not sure whether had I been weighed whether that would have made any difference.
The medical profession differs on whether or not weight gain is an important tool to measure in a pregnancy. If you, like me, have an issue with it don’t feel pressured into being weighed, stand firm and speak to your doctor and midwives about other measures of progression.
It’s your body and your pregnancy and no matter how much “they” say you should you are in control.
If you have concerns about your disordered thinking on weight and pregnancy call the Butterfly Foundation:
1800 ED HOPE / 1800 33 4673 Monday–Friday 8am to 9pm.