Reproducing Stigma? An Across-Province Study of Reproductive Care

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    Carrying stories: Digital storytelling and the complexities of intimacy, relationality, and home spaces
    (Taylor and Francis, ) LaMarre, Andrea; Rice, Carla; Friedman, May; Fowlie, Hannah
    Over the past decade, we have worked alongside storytellers to bring their stories into the world. These encounters have been challenging, exciting, and intimate. In this paper, we reflect on a digital/multimedia storytelling project in which we engaged with people who have experienced weight stigma in fertility, pregnancy, and motherhood care. We use the metaphors of story midwifery and surrogacy to describe the methodological-substantive interplay between what we do, how we do it, and what emerges in this (un)doing. In this reflexive and methodological paper, we engage with the affect and relationality of doing storywork. We reflect on and theorize around embeddedness, othering, belonging, power, shame, and joy in research encounters. Pragmatically, we consider how relational ethics combine with exhaustion and logistical challenges. Finally, we explore the tensions inherent to (co)producing stories at the boundaries of neoliberal academic temporalities and structures.
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    A High-Risk Body for Whom? On Fat, Risk, Recognition and Reclamation in Restorying Reproductive Care through Digital Storytelling
    (Lectito BV, 2020-09-08) Friedman, May; Rice, Carla; Lind, Emily R. M.
    This paper explores issues of weight stigma in fertility, reproduction, pregnancy and parenting through a fat reproductive justice lens. We engage with multimedia/digital stories co-written and co-produced with participants involved in Reproducing Stigma: Obesity and Women’s Experiences of Reproductive Care. This mixed methods research project which took place between 2015-2018 used interview and video-making methods with women-identified and trans people, as well as interviews with healthcare providers and policymakers to investigate perceptions and operations of weight and other stigma in fertility and pregnancy care. We consider the ways in which reproductive risk is typically storied in healthcare and culture, and analyse multimedia/digital stories made by participant-video-makers which story reproductive wellbeing differently. We examine three major themes—on risk, on recognition of weight and other stigma, and on reclamation of bodies—that emerged as critical to these storytellers as they navigated fatphobia in reproductive care. We argue that just as healthcare practitioners strive to practice evidence-based care we must also put into practice storied care—to believe, respect and honour fat people’s stories of their bodies and lives as fundamental to achieving equity and justice in reproductive healthcare.
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    Fat reproductive justice: Navigating the boundaries of reproductive health care
    (Wiley, 2020-01-29) LaMarre, Andrea; Rice, Carla; Cook, Katie M.; Friedman, May
    We explored the experiences of people in larger bodies seeking fertility and/or pregnancy care through a reproductive justice lens, integrating an understanding of weight stigma with an understanding of who has access to reproductive technologies, who is “allowed” to become pregnant, and the discourses that surround pregnancy. We conducted a thematic analysis of the narratives of 17 participants who had been labelled “overweight” or “obese” while pregnant and/or seeking reproductive healthcare related to fertility and/or pregnancy. Participants’ narratives speak to experiences of being surveilled and controlled in medical settings; this surveillance and control negatively impacted their access to desired care. In order to receive the kinds of care they wanted, many participants had to become self-advocates. This self-advocacy speaks to resistance and “resilience”; we discuss how individualizing “resilience” represents an incomplete solution to navigating the shaming and blaming encounters participants experienced with healthcare providers. We argue for healthcare that is more caring and responsive to the needs of diverse individuals who are or who are seeking to become pregnant.
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    “This isn’t a high-risk body”: Reframing Risk and Reducing Weight Stigma in Midwifery Practice
    (Canadian Association of Midwives (CAM), 2019) Cook, Katie M.; LaMarre, Andrea; Rice, Carla; Friedman, May
    This article investigates the standards of care for fat recipients of midwifery care through a lens that questions common risk-focused narratives related to fat pregnant bodies. Throughout this article, we use the term "fat" rather than "obese" or "overweight". We avoid the language of obese/overweight because these medicalized terms are used to stigmatize fat people. Working from a fat liberation standpoint involves reclaiming the word “fat” as a morally-neutral descriptive term for larger bodies. Drawing on data from a research project exploring weight stigma during pregnancy care, we present findings from eleven interviews with fat parents including those who identify as women or transmen who accessed midwifery care during their pregnancy and/or childbirth experiences. Participants had both positive and negative experiences with midwives, often within the same care relationship. Related to weight specifically, many participants reported that midwives focused on the risk factors often associated with being fat while pregnant, even when their clients did not display signs of these risks. We discuss how practitioners—particularly midwives—might shift away from an anti-obesity, risk-based narrative. Instead, practitioners might acknowledge the potential risks of fatness during pregnancy while simultaneously honouring fat individuals' embodied realities and treating fat clients with respect to facilitate positive pregnancy and birthing experiences.