Experts are citing unrealistic media reports of celebrity pregnancies as one of the causes behind a rise in cases of pregnant women with eating disorders.
According to a recent report by the Canadian Press, some women are attempting to remain slim through their pregnancy in order to drop the weight quickly following childbirth. This dangerous practice sometimes referred to as "pregorexia" places both mother and baby at risk for serious complications.
Healthy weight gain throughout pregnancy best for mother and baby
Under normal circumstances, a pregnant woman would expect to gain between 15 to 40 pounds during a nine-month pregnancy. The amount of weight put on may vary according to the size of the woman prior to becoming pregnant, whether or not she is carrying a single fetus or twins, and other individual variables.
However, unrealistic media images often show celebrities revealing pre-pregnancy bodies with just a baby bump. Women who suffer from eating disorders are especially vulnerable to anxiety associated with any type of weight gain, including that of pregnancy.
Perceived social pressure to be thin may force some of these pregnant women to attempt to keep their pre-pregnancy figure by struggling to maintain a "perfect" body shape while their baby is growing inside. Other expectant women may find themselves torn between guilt over gaining weight and anxiety over the impact of their eating disorder on their baby.
"Pregorexia" associated with health complications for mother and baby
According to the journal Canadian Family Physician, women who are anorexic during their pregnancy give birth to infants with lower birth weights and lower Apgar scores (used to assess the general physical condition of a newborn baby).
Women with "pregorexia" are more likely to suffer from depression, high blood pressure, anemia, miscarriage, and/or premature labor.
Health professionals stress that it is extremely important for women with eating disorders to receive adequate physical and emotional support during their pregnancy. It is hoped that increased awareness about this condition will decrease the stigma associated with eating disorders, and help women to feel comfortable with the changes their bodies experience during pregnancy.