I started my own fat fertility journey nearly 20 years ago.
When I was just 16 my doctor diagnosed me with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and told me that I would never be able to have children.
Prior to the dreaded diagnosis, I’d been a chubby kid. Looking back now, I was a healthy child but my voracious appetite was seen as an issue and from about age 8 or 9 my eating was a problem that needed addressing.
It started innocently enough; giving me the lower calorie snack compared to my sister, but over time I was regularly on diets trying to lose weight.
At 13 my periods started and then promptly stopped. I had the “classic” PCOS symptoms of irregular cycles, weight gain, excess hair, and acne. PCOS is a metabolic and hormonal syndrome which the cause of it is poorly understood in terms of western medicine.
But for me, looking back now, I think that years of yo-yo dieting, cutting out fat, cutting out carbs and completely messing with my metabolism played a role in my periods stopping.
This pattern carried on throughout my twenties and is a tale as old as time. I’d lose some weight but then put more back on. I’d blame myself and think that I was greedy, unmotivated and disgusting. My weight went up, my weight went down, but my opinion of my body never changed. I was fat and ugly and barren, who could ever love me?
My weight went up, my weight went down, but my opinion of my body never changed. I was fat and ugly and barren, who could ever love me?
When I did eventually find my partner and we got married, I was terrified that we would struggle to get pregnant.
My menstrual cycle was still 100+ days long, I was still classed as “morbidly” obese and I’d been told time and time again that getting pregnant would be hard for me.
But it wasn’t.
Both my sons were conceived really easily. I had two healthy pregnancies and two healthy babies. Why was is to easy for me when I was told it should have been so hard?
Prior to getting pregnant, I’d been training as an acupuncturist and a naturopath. What did I do that made the difference? This thought led me down the path of specializing in treating fertility, becoming a fertility coach and supporting women in getting pregnant.
But the question still lingered.
When my sons got a bit older and started eating solid foods, I began to really look at my own relationship with food. I did not want them to have the same issues with food that I did, wasting years of their life worrying about what they were eating, being frightened of putting on weight, desperately trying to lose weight.
So I made myself a promise: I stopped dieting and stopped weighing myself. This was the single most challenging yet liberating thing I had ever experienced.
I was no longer trapped in the endless cycle of dieting. I suddenly had so much free space in my head and energy that had previously been wasted counting calories and obsessing about food. I found other people (thanks, Instagram) who’d also followed this same path and were learning to respect and follow the rules for their own bodies.
And I discovered that many "truths" were not entirely true.
I discovered research that shows two-thirds of diets don't work with little evidence that dieting leads to any long-lasting health benefits.
I discovered that so many of the health problems we associate with fat can actually be caused by yo-yo dieting and weight stigma (the way that others treat fat people.)
I discovered that that fat is not something to be afraid of.
So what did I learn about fat fertility?
I've learned that fat people can get pregnant.
I've learned that fat people can make fantastic parents.
I've learned that the difficulties fat people face when trying to get pregnant are not because they are greedy or unmotivated or unworthy; It’s because there is a whole culture profiting from shaming them.
If you are in a fat body and would like support getting pregnant, you are entitled to that support and you deserve that support. Find someone who is willing to see you as a human being and can offer the support you deserve to create your family.