• Erin Basinger thought she had a swollen armpit and was tired of being a new mom.
  • Fatfibia thinks she missed her stage 4 cancer diagnosis.
  • Obese pregnant patients receive negative messages from clinicians, including that they are bad mothers.

In the year When Erin Basinger went wedding dress shopping in 2019, she struggled to find dresses that didn’t accentuate her growing underarm bra.

So she bought a strapless bra and a loose-fitting dress and tried to push aside her concerns about the bump. Also, she has always had some fatty tissue in that area and recently had surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome. Perhaps, she thought, the procedure caused some fat to redistribute or cause inflammation.

In the year Even as she continued to grow during and after her first pregnancy in 2020, Basinger chalked it up to hormones. She was in the pre-natal stage. Postpartum Visits, and the doctor did not raise any concerns.

Basinger, now 36, was battling extreme fatigue — she would “scream-sing” to open her eyes in the car and when that failed, she fell asleep. Still, she thought that was it. Pregnancy And it should be like new parenthood.

But more than six months after childbirth, the mass had grown to a grapefruit. After consulting with her sister’s nurse, Basinger visited a new doctor specifically to ask about the swelling in December 2021.

After a few tests and referrals, she was diagnosed Stage 4 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. She had a severe subtype that spread to her head, neck, chest, abdomen, pelvis, and parts of her bones.

“My PET scan lit up like a Christmas tree,” she said. “It was very scary in general, and it was very scary for me because I had a seven-month-old child.”

She shares her story – including how she thinks Weight stigma played a role in her late diagnosis. – with an insider to encourage women to advocate for themselves and to reassure pregnant patients who feel ridiculed for their weight.

“I want other people to know: I’m fighting for you, even if you feel like you can’t fight for yourself,” she said.

Basinger suspects doctors dismissed the tumor as ‘fat’

Basinger, A Communication professor She wished she could have argued for herself when she first thought something was missing for the University of North Carolina at Charlotte’s health psychology graduate program. “This is my biggest regret,” she said.

But you can’t help but think that weight stigma may have contributed to the delay in diagnosis. “Looking back, I think maybe that was incompetence,” she says. “I guess there’s probably some fat phobia in there, like ‘she’s fat, so this is probably fat’.”

She has a lifetime of history to back up that suspicion. Doctors chalked up her rheumatoid arthritis to obesity, for example, and she said she asked for a diagnosis. PCOS It was just an “excuse” for her size.

“Every time I went to the doctor, he said, ‘Well, maybe it’s because of your weight,'” she said. “And it’s like, ‘If I hurt my elbow, I think it’s because I hurt my elbow.'”

This did not change before or during her pregnancy. When she is The IUD was removed, the OB-GYN warned her of possible infertility and pregnancy loss. “Her words were just a dark cloud over my pregnancy because I was constantly afraid that I would miscarry,” Basinger said.

Doctors told her that if she gained more than 19 kilograms during pregnancy, she would have to give up the state-of-the-art procedure where she was being monitored so that she could give birth at a well-known hospital with an NICU.

“I felt like this consequence was hanging over me,” Basinger said.

Weight stigma can have worse outcomes in obese pregnant patients

While there are links between Large organs and pregnancy problemsIt is not clear how physiological (comp affects how hormones are stored) Contrast with structureUltrasound does not work well on large bodies or clinicians not trained to administer anesthesia to people with large amounts of adipose tissue).

Confounding issues such as increased risk Gestational diabetes They also play a role in overweight mothers.

In general, health characteristics – How to eat, move, sleepand stress management, for example – are better indicators of health than size, pregnant or not; Evidence suggests.

However, health care providers often emphasize a pregnant woman’s weight more than anything else, which leads to guilt and shame, which reduces her own health. Research shows.

in her October 2022 study, Held with UNC colleagues Margaret M. Quinlan And Margaret Rawlings, surveyed 237 obese women about the messages they received before, during, and after pregnancy. They found that the most memorable messages came from health care providers, and most of the messages were negative.

For example, clinicians used to say that obese mothers were bad mothers, and that it was their fault that medical equipment was not designed for their bodies.

Some pregnant women reported being denied prenatal care or care from midwives based on their size. “It’s clearly saying, ‘We don’t think you’re fit to reproduce at your size,’ or ‘Your body just can’t do it naturally,'” Basinger said.

Others say that weight-loss during pregnancy was appreciated. Despite the dangerAnd they are encouraged to breastfeed to lose weight – because they are not Benefits for the baby. One participant blamed her doctor for her pregnancy loss.

Erin Basinger with her daughter Joyner

Erin Basinger with her son Joiner, now 17 months.

Easter creation

These direct and indirect messages are not only harmful but also exacerbate mental and physical health issues in obese pregnant patients. A study Weight stigma during pregnancy is associated with worse health care treatment, mental health symptoms, poorer health behaviors, and negative pregnancy outcomes.

In one extreme example, one participant in Basinger’s survey attributed her stillbirth to weight stigma. When the external monitor stopped working during labor, she said, it didn’t work to fix it, rather than an equipment malfunction, which clinicians assumed was due to her size. When a nurse finally helped, she said, “My son was dead.”

Basinger, a mother, went through six rounds of chemotherapy while pregnant.

After being diagnosed with cancer, she underwent six rounds of chemotherapy, which she says was “horrendous”.

Now she’s in remission, and she’s grateful to her hematologist for treating her cancer — not to mention her weight.

“I don’t often have incredible experiences with doctors, so I’m so thankful that I had such competent care with him because he literally saved my life,” she said.

She hopes that sharing her experience and that of others will inspire more doctors like him. In the meantime, she encourages obese mothers to seek it out Clinics involving weight And to fight stigma by educating themselves with books like this.Fat and fertile.

“Having those resources and knowing that my body is strong and beautiful and capable of bringing a healthy baby into the world was so comforting,” Basinger said. “And I did the opposite of what my doctors told me would happen. I had a beautiful baby boy who was just the light of my life.”

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