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Pregnancy and Bulimia Guest Post

A pregnant woman
A pregnant woman (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pregnancy and Bulimia
Pregnancy should be a time of happiness and joy. During this time a mother to be should take extra care of herself to ensure that the changing needs of her body are met. For some people though, this isn’t so easy, especially if they suffer from an eating disorder. Bulimia in pregnancy is one of the most searched for phrases on the Internet showing that whilst still taboo, it is a very real problem with many dangers both to the mother and their unborn child.

What is Bulimia?
Bulimia is an eating disorder which is characterised by bingeing on large amounts of food and then purging, either by using laxatives, or more commonly self-induced vomiting. Primarily a mental health issue, sufferers from bulimia may have a distorted body image and believe them self to be fat even if they are not. They may fear putting on weight but unable to stop binge eating. By purging the body of their calorie intake, they hope to negate the effects of calories on the body.

What are the risks of bulimia in pregnancy?
The weight gain that naturally occurs in pregnancy may be very difficult for someone who is suffering from bulimia to deal with. Fat stores are naturally increased in the chest, thighs and hips which is dictated by pregnancy hormones. A normal pregnancy can result in up to 15 kg of weight gain, the very thought of which horrifies the bulimic mother to be. Reduced activity levels in pregnancy often results in boredom which can be one of the main triggers of bingeing. Even if someone has never suffered from an eating disorder before, binge eating is most common in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy.

What about the unborn child?
Bulimia in pregnant women is very risky to both the health of the mother and child. Increasing the risk of miscarriage and stillbirth, this debilitating eating disorder is very dangerous. Babies born to mothers who have suffered from bulimia during pregnancy are at higher risk of premature birth, low birth weight and may need a lengthy spell in a neonatal unit after birth. There are also the factors of both ante and postnatal depression to consider. Both types of depression are commonly found in expectant mothers with eating disorders.

Helping bulimia in pregnancy
If you suffer from bulimia and become pregnant then it is imperative you seek help straight away. If you are unable to stop destructive eating habits then help is available to help you have a safe and healthy pregnancy. In some cases pregnancy may actually help recovery as the thought of damaging your child with motivation to cease destructive behaviours. Reaching out for help with bulimia can be difficult especially when pregnant as the feelings of guilt and shame can be overwhelming. A health professional is not there to judge or criticise an eating disorder but is there to help you have the healthiest, safest pregnancy possible. The sooner help is sought, the better.

Me when I was pregnant with Mr A

Personally I have always been fit and healthy and into sports since a young age and even I was concerned what effect pregnancy would have on my body and my weight and I can see how easy it can be to get to wrapped up in it and become effected by an eating disorder. I found eating a very healthy diet that was nutrient rich both for me and my child worked the best for me, as well as doing gentle exercises. By putting good healthy food into my body and looking after myself during my pregnancy meant that I didn't have too much of an issue shifting the weight after pregnancy and my son was born at a very healthy weight.

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