Meet Jen McLellan of Plus Size Birth

Hi Jen. Thanks so much for chatting with me about the very important work that you do. This is the last week of  #Cesareanawarenessmonth and I wanted to chat with you about the class you have coming up and the myths and realities people of size face during birth.

First, tell me a little about yourself.

I started my blog, Plus Size Mommy Memoirs, 4 years ago. I was a new mom who wanted my fellow plus size mamas to know that we can have healthy pregnancies and positive birth experiences. Most of the information I found online was negative and I set out to change the narrative of plus size pregnancy and birth.

I had no idea that in a very short amount of time I would develop a huge community of women supporting one another before, during, and after pregnancy. Soon it became clear this was far more than a blog!

While I still love blogging weekly, I’m now a certified childbirth educator and public speaker. It has been quite a journey to transform my passion into a business over these past 2 years. The Memoirs community is now over 164,000 strong and the Plus Size Birth website receives over 1,500 hits a day.

How can your business help families during their birthing year?

My work is mainly targeted to plus size women, though I do spend a lot of time talking to people of all sizes about the importance of loving our bodies.

For plus size women, pregnancy comes with some unique challenges from an increase in risks to added emotional obstacles. My work is all about educating women how they can have a healthy pregnancy and empowered birth.

One thing I work really hard on is helping to connect plus size women with size friendly providers. It’s a provider who practices evidence based compassionate care.  Women of size face between a 47% – 80% C-section rate depending upon their BMI. Sadly some care providers tell women they need a C-section based only upon their BMI. This is a fear based, not evidence based, recommendation. I’ve seen great improvements when women are connected with providers who support plus size women with dignity.

I also can’t speak highly enough about doulas and have even developed a list of over 350 doulas in 5 countries who support plus size women.

What is your best advice for a person of size to avoid a cesarean birth?

There’s a lot women of all sizes can do to help reduce their odds of having a cesarean birth; like being proactive with their health throughout pregnancy, hiring a doula, and laboring at home for as long as they feel comfortable (if they aren’t having a home birth). Another thing that doesn’t get talked about enough is the importance of doing research when selecting a facility for a hospital birth. Sadly not all medical facilities are created equal and the difference in C-section rates for hospitals located miles apart can be shocking. My best advice for someone who is plus size is to address everything I just mentioned and be sure they are working with a size friendly care provider. I know I keep circling back to that but it’s critically important.

What’s your favorite thing about living in Colorado?

I was born and raised in California but moved to Colorado on my own when I was 19. So while it has taken me over 15 years to get used to snow, I instantly fell in love with how nice people are to one another. Truly! I l take such delight that nearly every place I go people say hi to one another and hold doors open. I realize there’s a lot to really enjoy about life in Colorado, but kind people are my favorite thing!

Where do you like to take your family for fun?

I’m a big fan of play dates at the park! Colorado has so many beautiful parks and we’re really looking forward to taking full advantage of the parks with water features this summer.

McLellan Family

Do you have any events, books or other materials you would like to tell us about?

Yes! I’m super excited to be heading to Colorado Springs on May 9th to educate birth professionals on how to support women of size. Click here to register for my class. If you’re unable to attend or aren’t a birth professional, I highly encourage you to sign up for my newsletter because I have lots of exciting classes and speaking engagements coming up.

I also want to share that I’ll be speaking at the Birth Without Fear Denver Meetup on July 25th. I’ll be talking about the importance of being in photos with our kids and capturing motherhood. Warning – bring your tissues!

I’m also currently developing online classes and writing a book to help women get the information they need to have healthy outcomes for themselves and their babies.

What is the primary goal of Plus Size Birth?

I believe all women deserve to be treated with compassion during pregnancy and birth. Sadly it’s not uncommon for plus size women to be mistreated by the healthcare community. Yes, women of size do have increased risks yet that doesn’t automatically mean a woman will have a high risk pregnancy. It’s my main goal to provide women with positive resources on how to have a healthy pregnancy. From connecting women to size friendly care providers to answering their unique questions along their pregnancy journey – I will do all I can to support plus size women during one of the most beautiful and yet vulnerable times of their life.

Thanks for taking the time to chat with me. We’re looking forward to your class next month. We are very excited to learn everything we can about providing the BEST support to all families in all circumstances.

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