Our journey through infertility, failed adoptions and now parenthood through the miracle of embryo adoption/donation.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Should fat people be allowed to have children?

Let me preface this post by stating that I am a chubby chick and I have a chubby hubby. So don't get your panties in a bunch over this title!!

Now, back to the post. Should fat people be allowed to have children? I ask this because recently a nurse at a clinic informed a patient that she and her hubby needed to lose weight before they could be good parents. Yes, you read that right! She was not concerned about the patient's health, but that it might be difficult for them to chase a child while heavy. I have met this couple once before and they both can move around just fine. And even if they couldn't, is that reason enough to deny them IVF?

Here is the story: Heavyset couple dealing with infertility call a few clinics to set up consultations. A nurse at one of the clinics ask the patient some questions in preparation of the consultation. After hearing the patient's weight (and that of her hubby) the nurse informs the patient that they will not even consider working with them until they lose weight. Neither patient have any health issues at all. Both are active and healthy, albeit overweight. Is it right for a clinic to refuse them IVF? And no, this is not a shared risk program.

After hearing this I was furious! Unless a person is a drug addict or has an illness that could harm a child or themselves a clinic should not be able to refuse helping a patient become parents. And if they are going to screen people in this way shouldn't thin people with high blood pressure be denied as well? Or what about high cholesterol? Are these not as dangerous as being overweight? And at what point is heavy too heavy? Technically 30 pounds is considered obese. Would obese people be turned away? Or just morbidly obese? That means that Maddie should not be my child as I was considered morbidly obese when I did my FET. Yet I had a perfectly healthy pregnancy except for mild preeclampsia and it was not weight related in any way. So by this clinic's standards I am not eligible to have a chance at having a baby. What makes this so incredibly sad is that this is the clinic that I had planned on using next year and now will be unable to. I am now 30 lbs less than my pre-pregnancy weight and no longer morbidly obese, but my hubby still is. So will we be disqualified even though we would be using donor embryos? Are we not good enough to be parents now?

I understand that there has to be some guidelines for medical treatments, but I really feel that this is crossing a line. It smacks too closely of discrimination to me. No one would deny a healthy paraplegic a chance at IVF. So how can they say that a heavy couple should not have that chance as well. Granted, obesity is not necessarily a disease, but not all heavy people are lazy and unhealthy. I know many chubbies that are very healthy, my dh and I included. And we are great parents!!! Yes, it is unhealthy to overweight! Yes, I should get my fat, lazy butt off of the couch and exercise. But if I have to wait until I lose 70 lbs I will be 35 and then have to deal with advanced maternal age. What is worse? Being too "old"? Or being too fat??

We can all agree that the octo.mom is a bit on the crazy side and really should not have had the last FET. But the truth is that it is not our place to tell her whether she can have a baby or not. And I firmly believe that the best scenario for a child is to have a mother and a father (personal opinion) but should a medical facility deny a single woman a chance at having a child? Or a lesbian? Just because I may not agree with a person's lifestyle choices does not mean that a doctor should be able to prohibit a person from achieving their dreams. If a woman is allowed the "choice" to have an abortion because it is "her body" should not ART have the same respect?

So what are your thoughts? And if you are going to be rude at least have the decency to use your real identity. All mean anonymous comments will be deleted. =D


  1. Just as we have opinions, I believe doctors deserve theirs as well. They have spent countless years to be able to do a job they believe in and enjoy. I don't think they should have to compromise their beliefs in their practice. Obesity can, most definitely, be terminal. Just as a doctor (or homestudy) would treat a potential parent that may have something terminal, like cancer, they have to look at the future of the child. I'm not at all saying I agree, but I can see where they might be coming from. Out of love for our (future) children, we should strive to put ourselves in a position to have a long healthy life with them. None of us are perfect, but we should always be trying. I want nothing more than to see my babies grow up and become productive, happy adults. That should be every parents priority.

  2. Technically I was obese when I got pregnant with my second child. I have heard that being overweight (obese) can affect fertility but I got pregnant right away and despite having an 11 lb infant my health was 100% perfect throughout the pregnancy. No protein in my urine, my blood pressure was perfect, no diabetes- nothing. So I think denying a couple a baby due to obesity is ridiculous.

    I am not sure what they mean by being bad parents, I can only assume it means that chubby parents = chubby children, however my 3 year old has a very healthy BMI and I am not one of those parents who cooks the child the healthy meal and waits to order pizza until they are in bed.

  3. That seems to be pretty common because I've heard several people say that their doctor wanted them to lose weight first. Working in the medical community, I can kind of see both sides. I understand that they want us to be as healthy as possible but like you said, what about all the "skinny" people with "invisible" health problems? I definitely don't think that being overweight makes someone unfit to be a parent!

  4. Oh, there is so much to say on this. Bottom line though is that turning someone away strictly because your opinion is that they
    "need to lose weight before they could be good parents" is discrimination. No question about it. That kind of attitude would make me question the quality of the clinic anyway.

    Turning an overweight person away because they also have uncontrolled high bp or diabetes, etc. - that is most likely the doctor covering his butt with his liability insurance. The best thing to do at that point is to work on getting healthy first.

    It really sickens me that we as a society are so determined to "judge a book by it's cover." My dad was significantly overweight throughout most of my childhood, and I saw how he was discriminated against - especially by the medical community. Since he has lost 200 lbs., his treatment has improved 1000%. Just ridiculous. He is still the same likable, sociable, generous, hard working business owner he has always been.

    You're also so right about the unseen perils. Last week, I witnessed a man and woman - both smoking - get into their minivan with a baby and a toddler. I could see the smoke swirling in the air. But not everyone has to be "screened" to be parents like us.

    BTW, congrats on the 30 lb. pre pg weight loss. That's wonderful!

  5. Just another thought, but I know at the clinic where I did my IVF, you could not be over a certain BMI, and that was due to the anesthesia risks involved with the egg retrieval surgery. Not sure if there were any other implications of it, but I don't think so b/c we did shared risk, and my BMI was fine for retrieval purpose, but not ideal.

  6. From my experience with IVF, I do remember there being weight restrictions...but that was to my knowledge only for a shared risk program. I don't know if it's something the docs researched as far as weight vs. chance of getting pg with ivf. If the clinic is doing shared risk, they are probably trying to make sure the odds are for them. BUT, I fell within the weight guidelines and I have no baby to show for it.
    I think it was WRONG of them to say it was for them to be better parents, shame on them!

  7. I know at my clinic there are weight restrictions for IVF. It can make the anesthesia for egg retrieval much more dangerous and also make pregnancy and delivery dangerous for mom and baby. I respect my clinic for taking this stance.

  8. Hi,
    As a person who has struggled with my weight most of my life I understand your frustration. The nurse's comment about lack of movement was just stupid and insensitive. Also if you are talking IVF own eggs or being a recipient for DE/FET? With own eggs fertility has been proven to be effected with a bmi OVER 25, and once over 30 you are really running into problems. A BMI over 35 and you are clinically morbidly obese and the rate of miscarriage doubles and yes there are anesthetic problems as well. Finally being morbidly obese leaves people much more prone to significant health issues. Still, it is not easy being obese (and more and more people in our society are) so I personally think the British approach of referral to a dietician and suggesting they try and lose a bit of weight and then significantly increase their chances is a great system...Weight is a major issue in our society as over 60% of the USA population is now overweight...At the same time, it the person feels that weight loss for them isn't going to happen they shouldn't be denied treatment.
    PS. After 3 years of infertility treatment by BMI has gone from 26 to 31:-( Now pregnant with donor eggs...


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