Pregorexia is an eating disorder that affects pregnant women. Anorexia during pregnancy can lead to physical and psychological harm to the baby, and can even result in miscarriage or fetal death. What are the causes of pregorexia? How can you recognize the symptoms? What is the treatment for it?
Anorexia in pregnancy is an eating disorder characterized by starvation or inducing vomiting during pregnancy. Pregnant women may be concerned about the natural consequences of pregnancy – weight gain, hips rounding, abdominal enlargement, fuller breasts – because they believe that all these things ruin their figure. As a result, during pregnancy, they try to look as if they were not pregnant. They intensely use restrictive diets and exercise, prioritizing the pursuit of a perfect figure over the healthy development of the child.
Pregorexia – Causes and Risk Factors
The causes of pregorexia, like anorexia and bulimia, are very complex. It is believed that women with low self-esteem are exposed to pregorexia, which can lead to the deepening of body dissatisfaction and disorders in body perception. Usually, these are women who have experienced trauma in childhood. Negative past experiences often cause many diseases (including mental disorders) in adulthood, and pregnancy can be a trigger that reminds us of a traumatic event. As a result, not only women who have suffered from eating disorders in the past but also those who have never had psychological problems with eating are at risk of pregorexia.
The indirect cause of pregorexia is certainly the current media, which creates an image of pregnant celebrities with a sometimes surprisingly thin figure and a slightly rounded belly (an example is Nicole Kidman, who was suspected of pregorexia during her pregnancy). They claim that women should strive for a perfectly slim body even during pregnancy.
Pregorexia – Symptoms
- eating low-calorie meals, often in small quantities. This is often explained by a lack of appetite and nausea;
- exercising frequently and intensely;
- constant weight monitoring – a pregnant woman often sets certain goals, such as gaining only a few kilograms during pregnancy or fitting into pre-pregnancy pants;
- inducing vomiting after eating;
The worst part is that a pregnant woman often takes diuretics and laxatives, which can cause a miscarriage or lead to physical or mental retardation of the child.
Pregorexia – Treatment
As pregorexia is not yet recognized as a separate medical condition, the treatment for this condition is similar to that of anorexia. This means that psychological help is necessary, preferably in collaboration with the doctor responsible for the pregnancy. Unfortunately, pregnant women may not recognize their problem, and it’s not possible to force them to undergo treatment, which can lead to tragedy. Therefore, the support of loved ones in dealing with this problem is crucial.