Skip to Content

Size-Friendly vs. Size-Inclusive: What Birth Workers Need to Know

It's fantastic that more and more birth workers—from doulas to midwives, OB-GYNs, nurses, and beyond—are committed to being size-friendly. But what does it truly mean to be size-friendly, and how does it differ from being size-inclusive?

Size-Friendly Birth Professionals teaching pregnant women

Terms like “size-friendly” and “size-inclusive” are often used interchangeably. While both approaches aim to support and empower all pregnant bodies, they vary in depth and scope.

Understanding these differences is essential for birth professionals who strive to provide the best possible support.

Let's delve into what it means to be size-friendly versus size-inclusive and why embracing size-inclusivity is vital for comprehensive and equitable maternity care.

Being Size-Friendly: Compassionate Support for All

Size-friendly birth professionals aim to create a welcoming and supportive environment for all pregnant individuals, regardless of their size.

A size-friendly birth professional embodies:

Compassion and Understanding

Professionals are empathetic and understanding of the unique challenges that individuals may face during plus size pregnancy. They strive to make all patients feel comfortable and respected.

Positive Communication

They use positive and respectful language when discussing weight and body size, avoiding any judgmental or stigmatizing remarks.

Accessible Care

Professionals ensure that their practice is accessible to individuals of all sizes, offering appropriately sized gowns, blood pressure cuffs, and other equipment.

While being size-friendly is an important step in supporting plus size pregnancies, it primarily focuses on creating a compassionate and welcoming environment. However, to truly address the needs of plus size individuals and improve outcomes, birth professionals need to take an additional step.

Related: 5 Steps to Becoming a Size-Friendly Midwife

OBGYN holding pregnant woman's hands

Being Size-Inclusive: Unpacking Bias and Gaining Specialized Training

Size-inclusive maternity care goes beyond being friendly and compassionate. It involves a deeper commitment to understanding and addressing the unique needs of plus size pregnant individuals through specialized training and the active dismantling of weight bias in maternity care.

Here's what sets size-inclusive maternity support apart:

Unpacking Weight Bias

Size-inclusive professionals actively work to recognize and challenge their own biases and assumptions about weight. This involves ongoing self-reflection and education to ensure that these biases do not impact the care they provide.

Specialized Training

Size-inclusive birth workers engage in specialized accredited training programs, such as the Size-Friendly Birth Course, to gain a comprehensive understanding of the unique medical, emotional, and logistical needs of plus size pregnant individuals.

This training provides practical strategies for supporting plus size individuals throughout their maternity journey.

Evidence-Based Practices

Size-inclusive care is rooted in the latest research and evidence-based practices.

Birth professionals learn to distinguish between genuine health concerns and societal misconceptions about weight, ensuring that their care is based on accurate information.

Holistic Support

Beyond clinical care, size-inclusive professionals consider the emotional and psychological aspects of pregnancy. They offer holistic support that addresses body image concerns, teach how to set healthy boundaries, and promotes a positive pregnancy experience.

Advocacy and Change

Size-inclusive professionals often advocate for broader systemic changes within the healthcare system to promote inclusivity and combat stigma. They understand that individual actions can contribute to a larger movement towards equitable care for all.

Bridging the Gap: From Size-Friendly to Size-Inclusive

While size-friendly support is compassionate and welcoming, size-inclusive care involves a dedicated effort to understand and meet the specific needs of plus size individuals through education and self-awareness.

Size-inclusivity not only addresses immediate healthcare needs but also fosters a more equitable and respectful environment for all patients.

Thank you to all the birth workers committed to providing compassionate and supportive care. Your dedication makes a significant difference in the lives of many.

As you continue on your journey, consider reflecting on your current practices.

Are you already size-friendly? If so, the next step might be exploring how to become size-inclusive.

You might find it helpful to take the free Am I a Size-Friendly Birth Professional? quiz to aid in this reflection. It's a great starting point for understanding where you are and how you can grow.

Together, we can work to ensure that pregnant individuals of all sizes receive the care and respect they deserve.

plus size woman holding her baby after giving birth
Jen McLellan, CBE
Follow me