One of the coolest things about being pregnant is watching your body grow and change in ways you never thought possible. Sure, you're getting a little bigger around the midsection (and probably elsewhere) but for the first time in most women's lives, this weight gain is welcomed and even celebrated. Most women — but not all women.
Some women are plagued by an obsession to avoid weight gain, especially during pregnancy. The condition, coined pregorexia by the media, affects women who excessively diet and exercise throughout their pregnancy to minimize weight gain.
Similar to eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia, pregorexia includes behaviors like bingeing and purging, severely restricting calories, excessively exercising, and abusing laxatives or diet pills.
Women (and men) who suffer from eating disorders are prone to other health consequences such as weakened bones, mineral loss, low body temperature, irregular heartbeat, osteoporosis and digestive disorders.
But when an eating disorder strikes during pregnancy, it affects the baby, too. Pregorexia can cause problems in babies including neurological problems, smaller head size, lower IQ, lower birth weight, birth defects, and impaired function later in life.
Not surprisingly, women who have a history of eating disorders are more prone to developing pregorexia during pregnancy. Other factors that may lead to the condition include body image issues, relationship difficulties, and feelings of uncertainty toward motherhood.
The good news is that pregorexia is treatable. With counseling and the support of family and friends, women who are experiencing pregorexia resolve their weight issues, for their own health and that of the baby.