Pregnancy and Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are difficult and complex conditions that can be difficult to treat. The problems of eating disorders are compounded when the issue of pregnancy comes into play. Clearly, women who are suffering from an eating disorder should strive to enter remission before attempting to become pregnant. Pregnancy is a demanding time in any women’s life.

In order to carry a healthy baby into full term, a woman who is expecting needs to store several nutrients, vitamins, minerals and carbohydrates in their body. When these reserves of nutrients are not available, the mother can become severely malnourished, which can lead to several health complications. Other dangers associated with an unhealthy pregnancy include exhaustion, depression, and obviously, the fetus becomes susceptible to several serious health risks.

Weight Gain Expected

Most women can expect to gain an average of 25-35 pounds during the course of pregnancy. While most women understand that gaining weight is a normal part of pregnancy, women with eating disorders may find this aspect of pregnancy frightening. While some women may be able to deal weight gain and accept it as a natural part of pregnancy, other may plunge into a deep depression as they begin to experience weight gain. Pregnancy can be a challenging period for all women, but it can be an especially difficult time for women who are suffering from an eating disorder.

Each eating disorder has its own specific set of risks associated with pregnancy. Women who suffer from anorexia nervosa during pregnancy may not gain sufficient weight during pregnancy. Women with anorexia nervosa who become pregnant also have a much higher risk of having a baby with low birth weight, and all the related health complications that tend to accompany low birth weight babies.

Binge and Purge

Women with bulimia nervosa may suffer from their own specific set of complications. The binge and purge cycle of bulimia can lead to several health complications, including chemical imbalances, heart problems, and dehydration. Another common eating disorder is binge eating disorder. Binge eating disorder comes with its own set of risks and difficulties.

Many people with binge eating disorder have trouble maintaining a healthy weight. They may become overweight or even severely obese. Women with binge eating disorder who become pregnant may be more prone to developing gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, and have a greater chance of giving birth to babies who are high in weight.

During the fragile moments of pregnancy, the health risks associated with eating disorders only become more pronounced. Women who become pregnancy while battling an eating disorder are prone to depression, high blood pressure, dehydration, nutritional deficiencies, heart irregularities and other cardiac problems, complications with labor and nursing, and post-partum depression.

Women who become pregnant while dealing with an eating disorder also put their babies at risk for several serious health risks. Health risks for babies born to mothers with eating disorders include low birth weight or overweight, problems with their respiratory system, premature birth, and they may be more prone to developmental problems than other young children.