Pregnancy and Eating Disorders

By October 18, 2012

Hello! I’m a 36 year old woman who is four months pregnant. My eating has been disordered since I was 16 and I’ve been working on it through therapy, medication, behavior modification, reading and research – you name it. Over the years I’ve gone from anorexia to exercise bulimia to binge eating (at night) and feel that I have made significant progress. However, being pregnant has thrown me for a bit of a loop and seems to have derailed my progress somewhat. I am now struggling between a habit formed over the years and the knowledge that it’s not just about me anymore. I’m currently in therapy but one of the ways I also learn and grow is through reading. I have been searching for any type of reading materials on pregnancy and eating disorders but have been unable to find anything. I was wondering if you might be aware of any resource materials available to the public? I’d love to know if other people have experienced something similar and how they’ve coped! – h.

At the age of 34 I became pregnant with twin boys. I delivered healthy, happy, boys naturally eight days after my 35th birthday. I have worked though my own therapy, taken medication in the past, worked through my own reading and research and have made significant progress. As a fellow disordered eating survivor and a professional, licensed, psychotherapist I would title my memoirs with something you wrote: “Being pregnant threw me for a bit of a loop!” I cherish those words for their sincerity and absolute truth.

I, too, soon learned into my pregnancy that no one had talked about or wrote about this stage of living with food and image and pregnancy. And imagine pregnancy with twins! (Oh, the experience…). You wrote a second sentence which I believe is at the heart of the issue (the issue being our continued chosen recovery) and it is the following: “I am now struggling between a habit formed over the years and the knowledge that it’s not just about me anymore.”

The conflict that pregnancy can throw some disordered persons into is the realization that there are (1) my needs and (2) the needs of you of, which I am supposed to note and take care of while I carry you. The tension continues to pull us to the familiar habits and the expectations (cultural, personal, familial, etc.) of how we are to be and to feel and what we are to do when we are pregnant.

I do not know of a particular publication about pregnancy and disordered eating and recovery. We do have a blog on our site, however, called “40 Weeks.”What you are talking about is transitioning from a person who has been attempting to create a healthy self love to a role where you will be responsible for loving and nurturing a small, helpless, vulnerable baby. You will have to transition from one level of focus to another. It can be done. It is hard. It is on a continuum where some days are good while others test all the therapy, medication, modification and reading/research you have ever done.

In short, keep doing what works and be kind to yourself. You are experiencing a myriad of changes, physiologically, emotionally, psychologically, etc. Separate events are occurring – you are pregnant and preparing for a life changing event (all good) and you are maintaining the progress you have already made to live free of the entrapments of disordered eating. Your scope and breadth as a mother will be increased as you allow yourself the right to renew your mind, reclaim your soul and value and worth and be set free. Your baby is lucky. He/she can only gain real life experience from seeing you model this kind of growth and development.

Good living and congratulations on the pregnancy!