How Do Eating Disorders Affect During Pregnancy?

Eating Disorders

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With the obesity rates increasing in the past few years, there has been a lot of awareness about the importance of sticking to a healthy diet and having an ideal weight. However, this has also caused the emergence of eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia, which too, could have negative impacts on the health.

So do eating disorders have an impact on pregnancy? Keep reading to find out.

Do Eating Disorders During Pregnancy Really Affect?

Women affected by an eating disorder and who have gotten pregnant can undergo a stressful and anxious time. The changes in body shape and the weight gain associated with pregnancy can actually lead to worsening of the eating disorder, and can possibly have adverse effects on the developing babies as well.

Many studies have found mixed results about how pregnancy could affect women with different eating disorders. For some women, the eating disorder may remain unchanged during pregnancy, while for some, the symptoms may improve or even


A large study involving over 12000 women having a history of eating disorder revealed that their condition actually improved during pregnancy. However, they continued to express concern over their weight, and dieted and exercised more often, and practiced self induced vomiting as well. (1)

[ Read: Tips To Maintain Healthy Weight During Pregnancy ]

How Do Eating Disorders Affect The Baby?

Eating disorders tend to have a negative impact on pregnancy and the developing baby as well. Some common complications noted in women who are pregnant and affected by eating disorders include:

  • Respiratory problems
  • Stillbirth
  • Low birth weight
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Fetal death
  • Premature labor
  • Preeclampsia
  • Depression
  • Miscarriage
  • Increased risk of cesarean birth
  • Delay in fetal growth
  • Labor complications
  • Hypertension
  • Excess weight gain
  • Fetal abnormalities

Owing to the huge number of health risks associated with eating disorders in pregnancy, it is often advised that women with the condition must be treated completely before they attempt to get pregnant. In case of women who are already pregnant, they must seek professional help (2).

[ Read: Measures To Avoid Stillbirth ]

Management Of Eating Disorders During Pregnancy:

Women affected by eating disorders while pregnant must seek medical and psychological help as soon as possible. Following some simple guidelines can also help women improve their condition and have a healthy pregnancy.

  • Schedule an appointment with the doctor as early as possible and let him know about your pregnancy and eating disorder.
  • Remind yourself that pregnancy is about having your own baby, and having a healthy weight gain is important during this stage.
  • Aim to follow a well balanced meal with the right amount of nutrients required by you and your baby during this crucial stage.
  • Seek help of a nutritionist and understand the definition of healthy eating and following a diet.

[ Read: Calories Required In Pregnancy ]

  • Avoid purging on purpose.
  • Try to be a part of group therapy sessions and learn from the experiences of other women affected by the same condition as you (3).
  • Make an appointment with your obstetrician and check if your condition influences your pregnancy or your baby in any way. Stay updated about any possible complications that you may have during the pregnancy.
  • Allow yourself to be monitored carefully throughout the pregnancy period.
  • Talk to your doctor about the use of nutritional supplements to meet the increased requirements during pregnancy.

[ Read: Symptoms Of Preeclampsia During Pregnancy ]

  • Make sure you don’t skip out on consuming certain food groups such as fats during this stage. Have enough of each food group as required.

We hope this article helped you understand about eating disorders and pregnancy complications, and the other way round. Did these management tips help you overcome your condition? Share your experiences with us in the comments section below.