We all know the routine, go to the doctors office, fill out the paperwork, get taken back by the nurse or medical assistant, GET WEIGHED, along with some other vitals like blood pressure. But why is this the way it is? Well for doctors to bill insurance they often need two/three physical measurements and weight, blood pressure and pulse are all relatively easy to take.
But do they really need to know this information, and how is this different when you are pregnant?
For starters, I would throw out that about 99% of the time doctors don’t really need to know your weight to give you effective medical treatment. There are definitely a handful of reasons a doctor may need your weight like if they are providing you with a new medication that is dosed based on weight, putting you under anesthesia, or treating your for a medical condition that could cause severe fluid retention that can be assessed by weight changes. Most of the time though, they really don’t need it.
Pregnancy is another one of those times where weight is often used to assess your health and the health/growth/development of your baby.
In these situations, it is important that your weight be assessed, but that doesn’t mean you need to know what the number is or talk about the number with your providers.
---- Side note: if you are not pregnant and weight is not necessary for the doctor you are seeing, I highly recommend refusing to be weighed, DON’T STEP ON THE SCALE!! YOU DON’T HAVE TO!!! Doctors can even list weight denied as a physical measurement for insurance in most cases ---
What would be the benefit of NOT knowing your weight throughout your pregnancy?
Pregnancy can be a trying and emotional time, hormones, poor sleep, and the unknown of what life will be like once your little one arrives. Not to mention that your body is changing, A LOT! Some individuals may have no problem knowing their weight throughout pregnancy, but for others seeing the number on the scale change could lead to increased stress, anxiety, negative self-image, and potentially even the development of disordered eating or eating disorders, and you never know how it will affect you. Even if you have never struggled with negative body image before, you may still experience negative body image through the changing body during pregnancy. Those who have a previous history of anxiety or depression are more likely to experience this again during pregnancy or postpartum. Why add one more thing to the list? In addition, anyone who has a history of disordered eating or eating disorder is especially vulnerable for relapse during big life changes, and I would say pregnancy is one of the biggest life changes anyone could experience. I mean you are going to bring another human into the world.
Which leads me to another downside of focusing on weight during pregnancy. It can lead to disconnecting from what your body really needs, separating your from your innate connection to your body. If you are concerned that you have gained too much weight you may start trying to control your weight with certain types of exercise or dietary changes. Pregnancy is a crucial time in ones life to truly connect to the body and listen to what it has to say in regards to nutrition and movement. Your body is wise, if you listen it can tell you what types of movement make you feel your best and when and what you need to nourish yourself.
I personally found that my cravings and patterns of eating changed significantly from pre pregnancy to the first trimester and then again as I have now moved into the second trimester. If I wasn’t listening to my body, I may have missed out on the cues that led to a really smooth pregnancy so far. Movement needs change too. From fatigue, to needing to pee all the time, to round ligament pain and the hormone relaxin running through your body, what feels good and what is safe and healthy for you will change throughout pregnancy. If you are too focused on the number and controlling the number you may miss out on all the innate cues that your body is giving you.
I also have to take a minute to mention the RIDICULOUS amount of pressure on women to gain very little weight, have a “belly only” pregnancy, and/or quickly get their bodies back post pregnancy. In the mix of all of this, I highly recommend just forgetting the number all together and doing what feels best for you.
So then what do you do if you decide you don’t want to know your weight during your pregnancy journey?
Talk with your medical providers. Share why it is important to you to avoid knowing your weight or talking about weight changes throughout your pregnancy. Depending on your medical care/providers there may be different ways to handle getting your weight taken without you knowing. You may be able to step on the scale backwards. I am currently going through a centering program at a birthing center where they ask us our weight; since I am committed to not knowing my own, my husband has graciously agreed to take my blind weight and share the information with my midwives. There are absolutely options so check it out with your providers to see the best option for you. Note: if you are in a big medical system and mention it one time to a provider that you don’t want to know your weight that doesn’t mean they are going to remember or that the whole team knows. Therefore, you may need to be diligent by reminding providers to weigh you backwards so that you don’t see the number, not share any paperwork or verbal report of your weight, and not discuss weight trends unless there is a severe medical risk.
Remember you have the right to protect yourself by not discussing or seeing your weight during pregnancy, and you can change your mind if you have started your pregnancy seeing your weight and wish to discontinue.
If you would like more info on how to stay in touch with your body throughout your pregnancy follow me on insta @nom_nomaste.llc.