Managing an Eating Disorder While Pregnant

Managing an Eating Disorder While PregnantEating disorders and body image issues are unfortunately common. There are a number of factors that can contribute to the development of an eating disorder, and these include the following:

  • Biological factors such as family history and genetic makeup can influence eating disorders
  • Social factors can create a distorted body image, when the media, peers and other social factors influence a female’s “ideal” body type, definition of beauty, self-esteem and self-worth
  • Mental health issues such anxiety, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder and personality disorders can trigger eating disorders
  • Personal experiences including a past history of abuse or trauma, being raised in a body-conscious household or struggling with bullying can lead to eating disorders

How Do Eating Disorders Affect a Pregnancy?

Healthy pregnancies involve weight gain, and doctors recommend the average woman gain between 25 and 35 pounds to nurture a healthy fetus. For a woman with an eating disorder body changes and weight gain from pregnancy can be terrifying. Eating disorders can lead to women viewing changes related to pregnancy as “getting fat.” It doesn’t help that pregnant women attract attention and that people feel free to make comments about a pregnant woman’s shape and size. This extra attention can be extremely hard for a woman who struggles with body image issues or an eating disorder. However these issues must be managed, if a woman wishes to have a healthy pregnancy. Eating disorders are detrimental to a pregnancy, and the following here are a few reasons why:

  • Eating disorders reduce chances of fertility
  • Eating disorders increase the chances of premature labor, low birth weight, stillbirth, fetal death, miscarriage, preeclampsia, emergency cesarean birth, complications during labor and more
  • Babies who do not receive proper nutrition in the womb struggle with development and growth issues, fetal abnormalities, respiratory problems, diabetes and depression

Help Managing Eating Disorders While Pregnant

Women who struggle with an eating disorder must get help, if they wish to have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. It is possible to manage an eating disorder with the right help, and treatment programs accept women in all states of physical health. While it may be scary to talk about an eating disorder, it is a courageous and respectable decision that will benefit all involved. Pregnant woman can learn to manage their disorder with help from therapists, counselors, nutritionists and other health care professionals.

While the goal of treatment before, during or after pregnancy is to manage the eating disorder, find a balanced diet and promote healthy weight gain, treatment will also address psychological causes of the eating disorder. Underlying issues such as low self-esteem, past trauma or abuse and co-occurring mental health disorders can all be the cause of self-destructive behavior. Hiding these issues is not a healthy way to live life, especially when a new child is in the picture. If a mother cannot take care of her own health needs, she is putting her own child’s needs and safety in danger as well.

Get Help Managing Your Eating Disorder during Pregnancy

If you are pregnant or planning to become so and you struggle with an eating disorder, please call our toll-free helpline now. Trained counselors are available to speak with you 24 hours a day. Counselors can listen to your concerns and provide you with information and advice so that you can find the appropriate treatment options for your eating disorder. Finding help to effectively manage your eating disorder during pregnancy can save both you and your child’s future. Please call us today.