Managing an Eating Disorder While Pregnant

Managing an Eating Disorder While PregnantThe two most common eating disorders are anorexia (malnutrition or starvation due to fears about weight gain and body image) and bulimia (binge eating and then purging by inducing vomiting or abusing laxatives). It can be very difficult, if not impossible, for an anorexic woman to become pregnant, as her menstrual cycle is disrupted or halted by the disease. However, if the disease is established after conception, it can be very dangerous for the developing baby.

How Eating Disorders Affect Pregnancy

If left untreated an eating disorder can be fatal. Anorexic women develop irrational perspectives for their own bodies that mystify to friends and loved ones. Even if patients are severely emaciated, they may feel fat and ugly. The disease lives in the emotional part of the brain and becomes nearly immune to any kind of physical or rational evidence. Anorexia and bulimia can threaten a developing baby with any of the following health risks:

  • Premature labor and birth
  • Stillbirth
  • Miscarriage
  • Low birth weight
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Organ failure
  • Delayed growth
  • Birth defects

Anorexic mothers face an increased risk for depression during pregnancy or immediately after delivery. Many women suffering from eating disorders do not recognize their conditions or seek help. For their own sake, and the sake of their babies, they must get treatment as soon as possible. Proper caloric intake and nutrition are as important as their mental health. It helps some women to think they are feeding their babies instead of themselves.

Lasting recovery requires counseling, nutritional support and emotional rehab. For many women this comes through a combination of inpatient rehab and outpatient aftercare. Close monitoring by medical and mental health professionals can safeguard against post-partum depression or self-starvation.

There are many services available to help women with eating disorders, and many offer focused treatment to pregnant mothers. They can teach you to care not only for your own body, but also the body of your developing child. In this way you can overcome your eating disorder while fostering a deep connection with your unborn baby.

Help with Eating Disorders

If you are struggling with maintaining healthy eating habits, or if someone you love is dealing with an eating disorder while pregnant, please call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline immediately. Our counselors are standing by all day, every day to answer your questions and to connect you with professionals who can start your recovery right away.

You owe it to your little one to get the help you need. Regain peace of mind and your physical and emotional health by managing your eating disorder. We’re here for you and your baby.