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  • Writer's pictureCatherine Lott

Managing an eating disorder when you're pregnant

Disordered eating during pregnancy can have serious consequences for both mother and the baby. Here are some of the risks:

  1. Nutritional deficiencies: Disordered eating behaviours can lead to inadequate nutrition for both the mother and the developing baby. This can result in nutritional deficiencies that can cause complications such as anaemia, low birth weight, and developmental delays.

  2. Gestational diabetes: Women with disordered eating behaviours are at an increased risk of developing gestational diabetes, a condition in which the body is unable to produce enough insulin to regulate blood sugar levels during pregnancy. This can lead to complications for both the mother and the baby, including an increased risk of caesarean delivery.

  3. Premature labour: Women with disordered eating behaviours are at an increased risk of going into labour prematurely, which can result in complications such as respiratory distress syndrome, jaundice, and other health problems for the baby.

  4. Preeclampsia: Disordered eating behaviours can increase the risk of developing preeclampsia, a serious condition that can cause high blood pressure, swelling, and damage to organs such as the liver and kidneys. If left untreated, preeclampsia can be life-threatening for both the mother and the baby.

  5. Postpartum depression: Women with disordered eating behaviours are at an increased risk of developing postpartum depression, a mood disorder that can interfere with bonding with the baby and make it more difficult to care for them.

In addition to these risks, disordered eating behaviours can also cause psychological distress for the mother and lead to a negative impact on the mother-child relationship. It's important to seek professional help if you are struggling with disordered eating during pregnancy to ensure the health and well-being of both you and your baby.

Pregnancy can be an exciting time , but it can also be a challenging one, especially if you're struggling with an eating disorder. Eating disorders can make it more difficult to fall pregnant, but when you are pregnant, it's important to get the right support to help you and your baby.

The stress of pregnancy combined with the added scrutiny around your eating while having to gain weight can make managing an eating disorder seem impossible. However, with the right support and a solid plan in place, it is possible to successfully manage your eating disorder while pregnant.

Here are some tips to help you through this challenging time:

  • Seek professional help: If you haven't already, it's important to seek professional help to manage your eating disorder. Talk to your healthcare provider or therapist about your concerns and get their advice on how to proceed. They can provide you with a tailored treatment plan that takes into account the unique challenges of managing an eating disorder during pregnancy.

  • Establish a support system: Pregnancy can be a lonely time, so it's important to establish a support system to help you through the ups and downs. This could include family, friends, or a support group for women with eating disorders. Having people to turn to when you're feeling overwhelmed or triggered can make a big difference.

  • Focus on nutrition, not weight: While weight gain is a normal part of pregnancy, it can be triggering for women with eating disorders. Instead of focusing on weight, focus on nutrition. Consider working with a registered dietitian to develop a meal plan that provides you and your baby with the nutrients you need without triggering disordered eating behaviours.

  • Extra appointments may be necessary to more closely track the growth and development of your baby.

  • Practice self-care: Pregnancy can be exhausting, both physically and emotionally. Taking care of yourself is essential, so make sure to prioritize self-care. This could include practicing relaxation techniques, getting appropriate regular exercise (with your healthcare provider's approval), or engaging in activities that make you feel good.

  • Individual counselling and support groups during and after pregnancy can help you cope with your concerns and fears regarding food, weight gain, body image, and the new role of parenting.

  • Be honest with your healthcare provider: It's important to be honest with your healthcare provider about your eating disorder. They can provide you with the support you need and monitor your health and the health of your baby more closely. It can be scary to open up, but remember that your healthcare provider is there to help you.

Be Aware of the Triggers of Pregnancy

The incessant counting, comparing, and measuring that happens during those nine months and beyond can tap into some of the very mechanisms that are linked to eating disorders and food and weight obsessions. Perfectionism, loss of control, feelings of isolation, and memories of childhood often bubble right to the surface. But if you’re getting all the support you need, you’ll have a better chance of weathering those storms without resorting to self-destructive habits.

Resist the Urge to Shut Down or Close Off

Remember that there is not weak to ask for help. It’s the most courageous thing you can do for yourself and your baby. Try to look at your recovery as an ongoing process that will help you reach your full potential as an individual and as a parent.

Break the Cycle of Body Hatred

Allow yourself to celebrate the fact that your body is working some serious magic right now. Before you get overwhelmed by stretch marks or veins or loose skin, take some time to reflect on how you will teach your child—in your words and in your actions—that you appreciate your body. You have the power to help your child grow up placing a higher value on good health, qualities and values than on weight and physical appearance. But before we can pass along those positive attitudes, we must work to embrace them for ourselves.

Managing an eating disorder during pregnancy can be challenging, but it's not impossible. With the right support and a solid plan in place, you can successfully manage your eating disorder and have a healthy pregnancy. Remember to take it one day at a time, be kind to yourself, and celebrate your successes along the way.

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