Just going off the name, you can probably figure out that pregorexia is a combination of pregnancy and anorexia. It’s certainly something that veers off our normal stereotype of “eating for two.” Many expectant mothers enjoy the extra freedom during their pregnancies to take in more calories and grow their bumps. But not every mother feels this way.
Some expectant mothers become consumed with how many calories they’re taking in and how much weight they’re putting on. They may feel like they’re losing control of their bodies and need to take charge, so they start withholding calories and nutrients.
What Are The Signs Of Pregorexia?
Pregorexia is a not a formally recognized medical condition but rather something that has been coined by the media, the general public and some doctors in recent years. The condition is used to describe any expectant mother who suffers from eating disorder behaviors like extreme dieting and exercise, purging and binging.
Signs of pregorexia include:
- Extended workouts
- Calorie restriction
- Fear of getting on the scale
- Low self esteem
- Preoccupation with staying thin
Who’s At Risk?
Some women are more at risk for pregnancy and addiction problems. Women who have suffered from eating disorders in the past are more likely to suffer from pregorexia as well as women who have a history of poor body image and disordered eating. Past drug and alcohol abuse may also play a role in the onset of eating problems during pregnancy.
How Can Pregorexia Be Treated?
Since pregorexia isn’t medically recognized, there are no statistics on how many women experience it. It is estimated, however, that about 30% of pregnant women don’t gain enough weight. Of course, not every pregnant mom who doesn’t gain enough weight struggles with an eating disorder. But for those that do, the experience is much like any other form of pregnancy and addiction.
Women with past eating or addiction problems need to be upfront and honest with their doctors when they do become pregnant. Typically they will need some type of counseling and regular monitoring. Individual therapy is very effective because the patient and her therapist can work together to resolve self-esteem and self-image problems. Pregnant mothers also need to know that they are not alone.
Will We See More Of This?
Many speculate that pregorexia will become a more common condition among expectant mothers because of the pressures to bounce back after having a baby. Tabloids related to baby weight loss have more than doubled in recent years and it has now become an expectation, not an accomplishment. The best we can do is let expectant mothers know that if they experience these symptoms, they are not alone and that help is available.