Great Reads: Large As Life

An obstetrician dispels the myth that heavy women can't have healthy pregnancies and normal deliveries


Nearly half of American women are overweight or obese when they begin their first pregnancy, and many of them worry that they're destined to have a difficult nine months ending with a C-section. In the steadfastly reassuring Big, Beautiful & Pregnant: Expert Advice and Comforting Wisdom for the Expecting Plus-Size Woman by Cornelia van der Ziel, M.D., and Jacqueline Tourville, an obstetrician who specializes in plus-size pregnancies teams up with a plus-size mom to dispel the myth that heavy women can't have healthy pregnancies and normal deliveries. Yes, larger women can expect labor to last an hour or two longer on average than normal-weight women, and their risks for pregnancy and obstetrical complications are higher, but the authors emphasize that weight isn't destiny.

One chapter is devoted to the special fertility concerns of larger women, another to the importance of self-acceptance during pregnancy. Personal stories interspersed throughout include the lighthearted and the maddening; one woman recounts confronting her doctor over his incredulity that her blood pressure reading was normal. Advice ranges from ways to treat gestational diabetes to the best sources for plus-size maternity clothes.

MOST VALUABLE TIP: Sympathetic doctors and midwives are out there; find one who makes you feel comfortable. (Marlowe & Company, 2006, $16)