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Eating Disorders in Pregnancy

Pregnancy and parenting require a great deal of strength, physically, mentally and emotionally. For women with a history of Eating Disorders, these challenges can be amplified as they watch their bodies change and grow.

Katherine McPhee Foster, runner up on season 5 of American Idol, recently became a new mom to a baby boy. She is one example of a woman who came close to experiencing an Eating Disorder relapse during pregnancy.

Katherine McPhee began her struggle with bulimia when she was in middle school. However, after a treatment program and therapy, she became stable for 4-5 years before her pregnancy.

This is why when Katherine began struggling with her body image during her first trimester, it came as a bit of a shock to her. To cope with these feelings, she decided to seek help from her therapist.

Ilene Fishman, board member of the National Eating Disorders Association in the USA and an Eating Disorders clinician, said that it is completely normal for thoughts of disordered eating to resurface during pregnancy as the body changes and one may feel out of control. For someone who has recovered from a past Eating Disorder, this can be especially scary.

For Katherine, her Eating Disorder stemmed from an unhealthy relationship with herself. Psychotherapy helped her develop a healthier relationship with herself which, in turn, helped her  manage her Eating Disorder throughout her pregnancy.

Here are some tips for dealing with disordered eating thoughts during pregnancy:

Seek professional help ASAP. This can be a professional you have had a good experience with in the past or someone entirely new. It is important that you feel you can be completely open and honest with them. If you find they aren’t being sensitive to your concerns, you may want to consider switching providers.

Look at it as an opportunity for growth. We live in a society that constantly challenges us. Moreover, when we age, our bodies naturally change. Overcoming these thoughts of disordered eating that may occur during pregnancy can build resilience.

Remember that there is nothing to be ashamed of when asking for help. It is the best, most courageous thing you can do for yourself and your baby in the long run. Rather than seeing yourself as a failure, look at your challenges as an opportunity for growth that will help you reach your full potential as an individual and a mother.

We have the power to raise the future generation to place their focus on good health rather than weight and physical appearance. Before we can teach our children, we need to be able to embrace these positive attitudes in ourselves.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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