“Pregorexia” is the term coined by the media and the public to denote eating disorder behaviors that are experienced by women while they are pregnant. These can include rigorous dieting and exercise, but also behaviors like binging and purging. According to Dr. Ovidio Bermudez, the chief medical officer at the Eating Recovery Center in Denver, Colorado, almost 30% of women don’t gain enough weight during pregnancy.
Whether you are thinking about having a baby or are already pregnant but are feeling worried and uncomfortable about the weight gain that comes with it, there are a number of different steps you can take to keep yourself accountable. Below are some of the recommendations from the National Eating Disorder Association:
- Be honest and upfront with your prenatal health provider about your past or present struggles with an eating disorder or disordered eating.
- Schedule extra appointments with your prenatal health provider if necessary, to more closely track the growth and development of your baby.
- Consult a nutritionist with expertise in eating disorders before or immediately after becoming pregnant. Work with the nutritionist throughout the pregnancy to create a plan for healthy eating and weight gain. Continue to see her post-partum. She can help you return to a normal weight through healthy means.
- Seek out Individual counseling during and after pregnancy. It can help you cope with your concerns and fears regarding food, weight gain, body image and the new role of mothering.
- Attend a support group for people with eating disorders.
- Allow your prenatal health provider to weigh you: This information is essential to track the health of your baby. If you would prefer not to monitor your weight gain, ask your doctor about standing on the scale backwards and instruct them to not share the number with you.
There is no shame in admitting that you are worried about gaining weight during pregnancy. Working with your prenatal health provider to ensure your own and your baby’s health and wellbeing is a great initial step. If you find you need further guidance, NEDA’s helpline is available at 1-800-931-2237. To learn if the symptoms you are experiencing are consistent with an eating disorder, visit www.MyBodyScreening.org for an anonymous self-assessment.
Pregnancy and Eating Disorders | National Eating Disorders Association. (n.d.). Retrieved February 9, 2015, from https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/pregnancy-and-eating-disorders
Wallace, K. (2013, November 20). 'Pregorexia': Extreme dieting while pregnant - CNN.com. Retrieved February 9, 2015, from http://www.cnn.com/2013/11/20/living/pregnant-dieting-pregorexia-moms/