Does Pregnancy Trigger Eating Disorders For Women?

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Pregnant woman sitting by window

Women have certain rituals, dietary trends, exercise habits and more which they become accustomed to before they get pregnant. Once they find out they are pregnant their dietary and exercise habits can no longer be self-serving. They have another person’s needs to consider. Most women gain weight during pregnancy. For women who might have underlying eating disorder issues they never realized before, the out of control weight gain is very triggering. They feel out of control of their bodies, uncomfortable with themselves, and feeling anxious that they cannot change it. An obsession about their body, size, and appearance is striking to them. Before their body, whatever they did to maintain control over how they looked and how they felt they looked might have not been a conscious issue because there was not shift in their body. Now, pregnant with their child, and with a changing body, they are forced to reckon with  the deep psychological as well as physical discomfort that experience creates.

Pregnancy changes the hormones

Part of the reason women experience so much weight gain and change in body composition is the severe adjustment in hormones which take place during pregnancy. Some women see changes in their body for good, or at least for long term. Post-pregnancy, some women rapidly lose weight while others do not. For women who might have participated in eating disorder behaviors before their pregnancy, their bodies are compensating for years of starvation and refuse to give up the weight. Hormonal changes might also be in reaction to imbalance caused by years of eating disorder behaviors.

Pregnancy can bring out unconscious behaviors and thought processes

The last thing any new mother wants is to resent her child in her pregnancy. Yet many mothers who have their eating disorder brought to the surface in their lives starts to. If it weren’t for their pregnancy, they wouldn’t have gained the weight or be having such a hard time losing the weight. Such thoughts are irrational, but to someone with an eating disorder, the thoughts make sense. During pregnancy, a mother cannot restrict her diet because she has to supply a healthy amount of calories and nutrients to her child. She is confronted by her innermost thoughts about eating, exercise, and body image, which can lead to emotional distress and an urge to participate in old behaviors.


If you are struggling with an eating disorder or disordered eating behaviors, you are not alone. Avalon By The Sea is a dual diagnosis treatment center offering the best of certified primary mentla health and substance use disorder treatment. Our programs are trusted to provide trusted results. We’re here to help you find healing and change. For a confidential assessment and more information on our programs, call us today: 888-958-7511

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