The old adage about “eating for two” really does apply when you’re pregnant. No, you don’t need twice as many calories as before — but the way you feed your body affects how your baby develops. That’s why pregnancy and eating disorders need to be so carefully managed.

If you’re pregnant and struggling with an eating disorder, you’re far from alone. Eating disorders are especially prevalent during the childbearing years, and watching your body change in ways you can’t control can be triggering. Pregnancy can actually spark disordered eating in women who have not previously struggled with anorexia or bulimia.

Risks for Mom

It’s absolutely possible for a woman living with an eating disorder to have a healthy and normal pregnancy. However, some women experience challenges during those nine months. Eating disorders can trigger or worsen depression and anxiety, raising your risk of miscarriage and delivery complications. Purging can cause dehydration and heart problems.

Because eating disorders affect fertility, they can also affect your ability to get pregnant at all.

Risks for Baby

Inadequate nutrition and stress on your body may have minor or major effects on your baby’s development, including respiratory problems, low birth weight, and early delivery. Babies who are born prematurely may struggle with health complications and developmental delays that affect them for years.

Sadly, babies of mothers with eating disorders also have an elevated risk of death. In fact, women with bulimia are the most likely to miscarry.

What to Do

If you’re struggling with an eating disorder and are pregnant or want to get pregnant, you have resources available to you. First, your health provider can monitor you and your baby closely to watch for any abnormalities — but it’s essential that you be completely transparent with her about your eating disorder.

Professional treatment by eating disorder experts can also help you and your baby flourish, both during and after pregnancy. Work with a nutrition therapist to learn how to feed your body and your baby in a joyful and healthy way, and get emotional support from people who know exactly what you’re dealing with.

Get in touch with Ramey Nutrition today to talk about how we can help you and your growing family thrive.