Pregnancy and Eating-Disorders

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Do you want to have a baby but fear what will be the consequences of eating-disorders and pregnancy? Do you want to get pregnant but dread significant changes to your body image? Do you have concerns that you are eating disorder will effect in your ability conceive? Are you plagued with anxiety of how eating-disorders and pregnancy will effect of will affect your developing fetus?

If you struggled with an eating disorder as an adolescent or young adult, studies show that deciding to have, a child, or getting pregnant can trigger old feelings regarding body image. Previous eating disorders can be activating old eating disorder behavior.

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Eating-Disorders and Pregnancy: Effects on Fertility

The behaviors involved in the most common eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia can have a profound effect on fertility. These behaviors include restricting calorie intake, exercise compulsively, and/or experiencing excessive emotional stress, When you engage these types of actions there a more likely chance that you will stop menstruating. In order for a woman to get her menstrual period each cycle, her body must go through a series of hormonal changes, eating disorders can effect these changes, consequently cycle does not function normally. The menstrual cycle is one of the most important parts of conception. About once a month, a woman ovulates. An egg moves down one of the fallopian tubes toward the uterus. In the days before ovulation, the hormone estrogen stimulates the uterus to build up its lining with extra blood and tissue, making the walls of the uterus thick and cushioned. This set of events gets the uterus ready for pregnancy: If the egg is fertilized by a sperm cell, it travels to the uterus and connects to the soft wall of the uterus, where it slowly develops into a baby.

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Eating-Disorders and Pregnancy: Once Conception Has Occurred

During pregnancy, the effects of eating disorders can be even more dangerous than when a woman is not pregnant. The most commoneating disorders found during pregnancy are bulimia and binge eating, though some anorexics do become pregnant. The obsessive fear of gaining weight and restricting in anorexia is most distressing for both mother and baby. Eating disorders and pregnancy puts your baby at a high risk of developing a number of medical disordersand can even be fatal to the baby. The most well known problemsobserved in pregnant women with eating disorders are an increased risk of low birth weight babies and preterm labor.

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Women who suffer from bulimia and anorexia are often not able to provide themselves or their babies with adequate nutrition. Some are tortured at the thought of gaining weight even though they may cognitively know it is important. These obsessions can take over and they refuse to gain weight, causing their babies to be underweight, underdeveloped, and malnourished. Eating disorder and pregnancy can add to already existing physical problemscaused by the disorder. Your baby obtains all its nutritional needs from its mother. The baby will take as much vitamins, minerals, and calories as it requires from you. If you are not eating enough, you will find that you will become even weaker and may have difficulties breathing, walking, and lack the energy to do daily tasks. The baby will also take any calcium that it needs from you. During your pregnancy, you may suffer from increased bone loss, which can lead to osteoporosis in later life. Your teeth may also become weaker and more brittle. Due to the increased needs of your body as well as your developing baby, If you are already have experienced health problems both due to previous eating disordersor other issues these illnesses can be exacerbated. Some of thesedisorders can include heart damage, liver damage, or kidney damage. Mothers’ who experience pregnancy and eating disordersare also at increased possibility for miscarriage and complicationsduring birth. Placental abruption and breech birth are more common among women with eating disorder.

Eating-Disorders and pregnancy can also add to many struggles that are more psychological for woman than their counter parts that do not experience these problems. For most woman pregnancy is a very stressful and emotional time. Many find dealing with weight gain is very complicated and may begin to feel progressively more out of control. Some women become depressed their thoughts and feelings may become so intense it may occur to them to hurt themselves or their baby. If you feel this way, or know someone who does, help should be gotten immediately. Hormonal changes can affect brain chemistry and intense thoughts and feelings can become amplified.

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Pregnancy and Eating Disorders: After the Baby is Born

Most parents develop identifications and projections on to their children from the time their babies are born through the process of their child growing up. Parents who fear weight gain can deliberately underfeed their baby due to increasing concerns about the baby’s size and shape. Others may overfeed their baby, because of food restrictions that occurred in their families of origin. If you, friends or loved ones begin to recognize this it is important to get professional health to save you child from possible eating disorders. Other problems that can a lack of adequate calories and nutritioncan cause include: developmental problems for your baby, an increased risk for developing cerebral palsy, liver disorders, cleft palate, blindness, and other physical abnormalities. They are also at increased risk for mental disorders, including lowered IQ, learning disabilities, and mood disorders later on in life.

Pregnancy and Eating Disorders: When to Get Professional Help

If you have had a history of an eating disorder, it is important to get help when you are considering getting pregnant. If fertility becomes an issue, it is important that think about a possible history of eatingdisorders. In addition if you or a loved one notice you are eating has changed this would be vital that you discuss this with your fertility specialist. Though the stages of conception, pregnancy and even after the baby is born if you or a loved one notices any concerning behavior such as restricted eating ,binging and purging or any psychological problems such as anxiety or depression. Seek help immediately. You can start with your doctor who may be able to refer you to someone who specializes in eating disorders and pregnancy. Return to top of Eating Disorder and Pregnancy Page

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