Regaining Body Control: Overcoming an Eating Disorder During Pregnancy
Carrying a child means ensuring your nutrition and well-being. The lack of proper nutrition could have adverse effects on your and your baby’s health.
For people with eating disorders (ED) — a group of illnesses differentiated by irregular eating habits and a fixation on body weight — the changes during would-be motherhood could cause profound distress. While some ED patients improve during pregnancy, some may relapse even after they’ve recovered from the condition.
The Center for Cognitive and Behavioral Health encourages ED patients to seek eating disorder treatment in Westport. The condition may make the already difficult transition into motherhood a lot harder.
Eating Disorder Risks Overlap with Childbearing Years
Men and women of all ages can experience an ED. But the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health share that women in their 20s and early teens are more likely to suffer from anorexia and bulimia. The research notes that women in their mid to late-20s are more likely to receive a diagnosis for binge eating disorder (BED).
Some women carry a higher ED risk during their childbearing years. A 2013 study from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health holds that the risk of developing ED during pregnancy is “alarmingly high.” The findings show that 1 in every 21 women had an ED while pregnant.
Some mothers-to-be may even develop an ED for the first time while pregnant. Of the respondents, 1.7 percent report developing a new case of binge eating disorder (BED).
Keeping Up with Physical Changes during Pregnancy
For those with a history of ED, there is a high risk of relapse during and after pregnancy. In turn, this could lead to harmful behaviour, such as restricting food, over-exercising, and binge eating.
All the attention on eating well during pregnancy and measuring weight loss at prenatal appointments could, for instance, be a trigger for women who already have complicated relationships with food and their bodies.
And social media doesn’t make things any better — there are countless pictures of women sporting flat chests and six-packs months into their pregnancy on Instagram. This could take a psychological toll because control and positive body image relate strongly to an eating disorder.
The Need for Compassionate Care
Having a baby is a stressful time, but some may feel uncomfortable sharing their struggles because they feel like pregnancy should be a “euphoric” experience. Choosing not to speak up may stem from a fear of judgment, blame, or intervention. And this is why eating disorders during pregnancy are hard to detect and even more challenging to treat.
But recovery is possible. Pregnancies conceived during a pregnancy do not have to end in tragedy since the outcome could depend on your weight, nutritional status, and the type of support you receive from doctors.
Soon-to-be mothers need adequate support, guidance, and understanding when coping with an ED during pregnancy. And it all starts by receiving multi-faceted, compassionate treatment.
The Center for Cognitive and Behavioral Health helps patients overcome unhealthy eating behaviors. We provide mental tools to help you develop healthy coping skills. Contact us today.