Pregnancy is a time when body image concerns are more prevalent, and for those who are struggling with an eating disorder, the nine months of pregnancy can cause disorders to become more serious.
Eating Disorders affect pregnancy in a number of ways. From:
- Premature labor
- Low birth weight
- Stillbirth or fetal death
- Increased risk of cesarean birth
- Delayed fetal growth
- Respiratory problems
- Gestational diabetes
- Complications during labor
If you are struggling with an eating disorder, getting help to overcome it is the best thing you can do for your reproductive and pregnancy health. The majority of women with eating disorders can have healthy babies if they have normal weight gain throughout pregnancy. The article was sent to me by Ali Kerr. Ali said: I recently received a lovely email from Lina and I want to share it with you as she talks about her experience of recovery from bulimia during pregnancy. I’m so thankful that Lina has allowed me to share her recovery story and pregnancy recovery tips for those who need it. I hope you find it both helpful and inspiring!
I hope it will bring you much inspiration as well.
Lina and Her Pregnancy
I was suffering from bulimia/binge eating/excessive exercise for about 9 years, and my first acknowledgment that I needed help was when I read one of your articles. It resonated with me so much. I cried so much.
Needless to say I can proudly say the demon has gone and for me having kids helped massively.
Ironically I was hesitant to get pregnant, fearing I would have to stop my exercising and stop my purging, thinking I would gain a lot of weight as I would have no way to counter my binge eating.
Pregnancy made me slow down my exercise to brisk walks, yes I had to stop purging, yes I had to eat breakfast not just drink a coffee, and eat from all food groups not just cookies and soda. And surprisingly my urges to binge slowly disappeared. I did have a few relapses in the first trimester.
For me, I think the following helped:
1) Cutting down vigorous exercise. I wasn’t so depleted of energy by the end of the day, that my body and mind would go into starvation mode. I still only brisk walk or go for moderate jogs now.
2) Eating 3 full meals. Again, building my energy bank in the morning, into lunch, and through to dinner meant I wasn’t depleted by the evening. I allowed myself to eat as much as I wanted during these 3 meals, as it was generally healthy and also kept me full so I had less desire to snack.
3) Substituting for nourishing food. Being pregnant meant I had to eat from a variety of foods to give my baby all the vitamins and nutrients. I had to include more calcium, more proteins and omega3’s which were areas I generally avoided. I tasted nuts, avocado and cheese again. Something I avoided for 9 years! I ate as much nutritious food as I wanted which meant I had less room for non-nutritious foods.
4) Not caring so much about my body once the baby is born, because once they’re born, they are all that matters.
I can’t believe I wasted 9 years of my life thinking about food, eating/not eating, not going to the beach, not eating out with friends, 2hrs a day at the gym and I didn’t even enjoy it….so many moments I missed, and time I could have better spent in those 9 years. What a waste letting it control my life. How trivial to think weight was so important. We only have one life on earth, and I don’t want bulimia to be any more part of it than it already has.
It’s been almost 3 years since I had my first child, 3 yrs since I’ve healed. Though not completely as I still on the rare occasion binge/purge. And more often I binge but don’t purge. Today, weight wise, I am lighter without my ED than I was with it (including all that purging and exercising!)
Today I ate a KitKat and some potato chips, I didn’t exercise, but that’s ok. I have two happy, healthy children that make me happy. I have a wonderful husband that’s also a wonderful father and cook, a great family and lifelong friends.
I am so much happier, I hope your readers can soon find happiness too and not let their ED consume their lives. Feel free to share if you think my experience would help others. Let them know that, like it has for you, bulimia can end.
Thank you once again for your newsletters, you’re doing an amazing service and know that you have impacted our lives.