When I began seriously considering pregnancy in 2009, I had some concerns. One of my natural tendencies is to research topics thoroughly, but with this I couldn’t and still haven’t, been able to locate any information on the topic.
Millions of women, an estimate of possibly 10 million, suffer from an eating disorder. The sad part is that only 1 in 10 women receive medical treatment. Even then, rates of relapse are high. And it is not easy to define a “recovered” person.
I consider myself to be very fortunate that I was able to seek treatment and I do consider myself “recovered.” I put myself in that category because I do not actively engage in behaviors. Sometimes thoughts are there and I have my bad days, but I still would not say that I am a woman with an eating disorder who wants to become pregnant.
However, the thoughts of becoming pregnant definitely raised a few concerns with me and my husband. Since my recovery I have not gained the type of weight that comes with pregnancy. I still had days where I “felt fat,” and the thought of gaining a few pounds scared me. But I have always wanted to be a momma, and I found a therapist with the hopes of smoothing out any remaining eating disordered thoughts.
I was concerned with relapse and petrified of what it could do to my baby. Most of the information that is out there is strictly about women currently struggling with eating disorders and pregnant. I had to dive in and test out the water.
Surprisingly, I have been stronger than I thought I was. At the beginning of my pregnancy it was the hardest. I was critical of myself because I was in a phase for a while (which other women go through) where I felt I didn’t quite look pregnant, just fat. For a while I blamed myself for gaining too much weight too quickly and that it was wrong.
I overcame this (and so can anyone else!) by reminding myself that this is not about me and I have done absolutely nothing wrong. Ed (a metaphor from the book Life Without Ed by Jenni Schaefer, that your eating disorder is a person named Ed) preys on you when you are feeling vulnerable and have self-doubt; when you are at your weakest. In the past, I would focus on my body because it was a lot easier to focus on something that I could manipulate than other painful issues in my life. Right now I am focusing on my baby, and reminding myself that the extra me is beautiful and is my gift as a woman.
I try very hard to ignore many of the ignorant articles regarding weight concerns both during pregnancy and afterward. I know that it is no different from the other junk that the media feeds women while they are not pregnant. I learned how to do it during treatment, and I know that it is no different now. Maybe those articles are okay for some women (healthy women), but I know that it can be a bit of a sore spot, so I steer clear.
If you are considering pregnancy and are aware that you have issues with your weight or concerns about relapse, please know that you can do it, but you must be cautious. Please, please, please, speak to a professional first and work with them. There are also numerous support groups out there for pregnant women and eating disordered women (recovering ones too!). Share your concerns with your partner and make sure you have a strong support team that knows your plans to stay healthy throughout your pregnancy. Enjoy your pregnancy; without Ed.