Remuda Ranch Programs for Eating and Anxiety Disorders, the nation's leading eating disorder treatment center, reports there's a new pressure to look perfect while pregnant.
"With the media giving so much focus to pregnant celebrities, there's an increased pressure to look perfect and thin during pregnancy," said Brenda Woods, MD, director of medical services at Remuda Ranch. "Our society's 'thin' ideal has crossed over to pregnant women. Many women are feeling the pressure to not gain too much weight during pregnancy and to lose their pregnancy weight very quickly. Also, it's important to note that adolescents with eating disorder histories are in their reproductive years."
Remuda Ranch reports some of the warning signs that a woman is suffering from an eating disorder while pregnant include:
* Failure to gain weight while pregnant
* Poor fetal growth
* Exercise beyond what is healthy while pregnant
If a woman is suffering from an eating disorder while pregnant, she faces many medical complications including: low birth weight in the infant; possible neurological damage to the baby; increased caesarean section rate; and increased miscarriage early in pregnancy.
"A woman with a history of an eating disorder may be more vulnerable during pregnancy," adds Dr. Woods. "The emotional stressors of facing parenthood may push a woman with a history of an eating disorder back into those behaviors."
Normal weight gain is 25 to 40 pounds during pregnancy for a woman who is already at a healthy weight. The numbers range from 35 to 50 pounds for an underweight woman. These numbers can cause extreme anxiety for women with eating disorders.
"Women need to be educated about what's normal when pregnant," said Dr. Woods. "Doctors need to screen pregnant women for eating disorder beliefs and practices. Pregnancy is a great time to make changes that will not only help you, but also guarantee a better future for your child."