The Emotional Side of Eating Disorders

During pregnancy, a woman with an eating disorder, in particular anorexics, may have a hard time dealing with the weight she needs to put on (although, other women may find that pregnancy is just what they need to overcome their eating disorder). As a result, she may feel overwhelmed and sense that her life is "out of control." There is also a risk that she may not eat enough. All of these factors can lead to anxiety and/or depression during pregnancy.

Once the baby is born, a power struggle over food can occur if you have not yet come to terms with your eating disorder. This can affect not only you, but also your child. It is not unusual for a mother with an eating disorder to under-feed or over-feed her child.

In one extreme case, an anorexic mother ended up starving her child to death in an effort to prevent the child from getting fat. While these issues with food may start out in the mother, over time they can transfer to the child and result in both sons and daughters being overly concerned with their own weight and body image as well as the weight of others.

Eating disorders are very serious physical and mental illnesses that require medical treatment by a team of doctors, psychiatrists and nutritionists. You may also be able to find emotional support and understanding by chatting with other women who also have eating disorders.

If you are considering becoming pregnant, make sure you discuss your desire for a child with your health care provider first. Follow their suggestions on pre-conception and prenatal care to ensure that you have a healthy pregnancy and baby. (Read about the physical dangers of pregnancy with an eating disorder.)


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