The Growing Trend of Pregorexia

Find out about a new disturbing eating disorder that can affect both the health of mom and the unborn baby

A disturbing new trend is being seen among young mothers-to-be. Inspired by the super thin celebrities seen on runways and magazine covers, women are becoming dangerously obsessed with their weight at a time when weight gain is most important. This growing obsession with staying thin during pregnancy has spawned the term “pregorexia” due to its similarity to the eating disorder, anorexia.

During pregnancy, it’s normal for women of average weight to gain between twenty-five and thirty-five pounds. Women with pregorexia are bucking the trend and gaining only a few pounds or even losing weight while pregnant. To achieve so little weight loss, they’re resorting to unsafe weight control methods such as calorie restriction, excessive exercise, and even purging. Anything to keep off the excess pounds.

The effect that pregorexia weight control practices can have on the growing fetus is alarming. Babies born to pregorexic mothers are more likely to be of low birth weight and more likely to experience birth defects and sub-standard intelligence. Women who don’t gain a certain amount of weight during pregnancy are also more susceptible to miscarriage or premature birth. This doesn’t even take into account the harm a mother suffering from pregorexia may be inflicting on her own body.

What causes the dangerous phenomenon of pregorexia to affect seemingly normal, mothers-to-be? While undoubtedly influenced by society’s pressures to stay slim, women afflicted with this disorder have a strong desire for control over their lives and their bodies. They tend to be perfectionists who set unrealistically high standards for themselves, ones that they can’t always safely meet. Unfortunately, both mom and baby can suffer from the desire to avoid pregnancy related weight gain. Women suffering from pregorexia may experience significant shame and guilt relating to the effects their actions are having on the unborn baby.

Some blame the phenomenon of pregorexia on a fashion industry that promotes revealing, tight fitting maternity wear that shows every lump and bump. Gone is the conservative maternity clothing of the past, replaced with pregnancy clothing that’s designed for a svelte mom-to-be; and women are doing what they must to look good in it. Even if it means starving for two. Some believe that pregnant celebrities like Nichole Ritchie and Nicole Kidman who appeared slender throughout their pregnancies has contributed to the desire to be thin during pregnancy.

What’s the solution to the growing problem of pregorexia? Most women dealing with pregorexia need professional help through psychological counseling as well as nutritional support to protect the health of the baby. There are eating disorder treatment centers located nationwide that deal with these types eating disorders, including pregorexia. A gynecologist can refer patients with pregorexia to local resources for treatment. The most important thing is to get help. Pregorexia can have serious consequences for both baby and mom and should be treated professionally.

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