On average, seven million women are affected each year by eating disorders. Many of these affected women are in their pregnancy years. In the mind of a woman with an eating disorder, the thoughts of their body growing uncontrollably for nine months can be very scary. Many people who have eating disorders, have gotten to such a low or high weight that they cannot even have children.
Many women with eating disorders, especially those who have had an eating disorder for a long period of time, are in doubts of even becoming pregnant. Most of the time, women with anorexia or bulimia do not get their regular menstrual cycles.
This irregularity in menstrual cycles affects fertility in two main ways.
The first way, is that if a woman is not having her period, she is most likely not ovulating, and cannot become pregnant during this time.
Another problem, is that the longer a woman goes through life without her regular menstrual cycle, the better the chance of infertility. This typically affects women who are suffering, or have in the past suffered from anorexia nervosa.
If you have not yet recovered from your eating disorder when you discover you are pregnant, this could be very harmful or even fatal to your baby. Women who suffer from eating disorders have higher rates of miscarriage, and higher rates of premature birth, compared to that of women without eating disorders. Along with that, babies who are born to women with eating disorders are much more likely to be born at a lower than average birth weight. Babies who are born with a low birth weight are potentially at risk for many medical problems. Some of these medical problems include mental retardation, and deformities.
Pregnant women who have eating disorders should be aware of more difficulties throughout their pregnancy. Calcium is an important need during pregnancy, because without it, your bones and teeth could become brittle. Along with developing weak bones, there is an increased risk for kidney and liver failure, and even heart problems. You should try to take calcium, along with a pre-natal multivitamin that should be prescribed by your doctor. Do not have the opinion that these vitamins will replace your food intake.
Once your baby has been born, there are still many issues that you should keep in mind. After your baby has been delivered, you are more likely to suffer from depression, as well as a desire to lose all of that baby weight. There is obviously going to be a natural desire to lose weight, however it is difficult for women who have once had an eating disorder to lose weight in a healthy way.
Mothers with histories of eating disorders, sometimes have been known to underfeed or overfeed their child, in order to show that they are taking proper care of their children. Children who have mothers that are concerned with weight and dieting are more likely than average to develop eating disorders on their own.
Pregnancy can be a very overwhelming time for anyone, and can be even more difficult for women with eating disorders. Though I have mentioned many of the risks of eating disorders during pregnancy, there are also many benefits of being pregnant! You should remember that if you are pregnant, or are to become pregnant in the future, the you should consider getting treatment. If it is at all possible, try to get a physical exam before you become pregnant. Be sure to inform your health care provider of your eating disorder, because this could greatly affect the results of your physical exam.
Some women with eating disorders have many complications during pregnancy, whereas others form healthy, long lives with their families.