During the nine months, a woman’s moods and emotions can range from the highs of feeling overjoyed and excited about having the baby to the lows of feeling impatient, worried and terrified as the delivery and motherhood approaches.
The growing baby receives all its nourishment from the mother’s body. When stores of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals are low, a woman’s body will drain them to support the growth and development of the baby. If reserves are not sufficiently restored through healthy eating, the mother can become seriously malnourished. This in turn can lead to depression, exhaustion and many other serious health complications.
Motherhood is a permanent transformation. There is no other life event that is so permanent and transforming. It is but natural that this transformation comes with its share of anxiety, worry, regret, and wondering.
The average woman gains between 12 to 22 kilograms during pregnancy. While this amount is required for a healthy pregnancy, for women with eating disorders, having to gain this weight is frightening. Some women with eating disorders are able to cope more easily with weight gain during pregnancy. Some see it as a sacrifice for an important cause. But others may plunge into a deep depression as they struggle with the idea of putting on too much weight and their body image issues. Most women with eating disorder, fall somewhere between these two extremes.
Some women who are anorexic (anorexia nervosa) are underweight and may not gain enough with during pregnancy. They risk having a baby with abnormally low birth weight and related health problems.
Women with bulimia (bulimia nervosa), who continue to purge may suffer dehydration, chemical imbalances or even cardiac irregularities. Pregnancy heightens these health risks.
Women who are overweight due to binge eating are at a greater risk of developing high blood pressure and gestational diabetes.
Risks a mother with eating disorder faces:
- Premature births
- Labour complications
- Difficulties in nursing the baby
- Post partum depression
Risks baby faces:
- Poor development
- Premature birth
- Low birth weight
- Respiratory distress
- Feeding difficulties
- Other perinatal complications
Women with eating disorders should take the help of professionals and do their best to resolve eating-disorder related weight and behavioural problems before they attempt to get pregnant.
Women with eating disorders who become pregnant should seek specialized medical and psychological help.
Pregnant women with eating disorders should inform their doctor about these problems and may require high-risk obstetrical care.