Shifting the Eating Disorder Voice During Pregnancy

By Hattie Rowe
West Virginia University

Major changes in life can be stressful for anyone. But for women who have struggled with eating disorders, adapting to changes may look more difficult. People who suffer from an eating disorder have unhealthy coping strategies related to their body. Whether these life changes induce stress or excitement, adjusting to something new can elicit anxiety at the unknown.

Pregnancy is a pivotal time period in a woman’s life. It involves acclimating to not only being called “Mom”, but also a different body. It’s important for women who struggle with body concerns to find resources that help guide them through this time.

Eating disorders often have conflicting ‘voices’ in ones head about what is good and what is bad. The eating disorder voice often pushes a person to deem their body invaluable and intrusive to others. But when a human life is introduced, it’s more difficult to attempt escaping one’s own body. This mentality is dangerous for not only the woman but the new life inside her. That ED voice may start to become loud, but the voice that vouches for recovery and self love has the potential to grow even louder. Recovery involves learning how to distinguish which voice is producing certain thoughts about one’s body while also learning how to strengthen the good voice. Using this strategy can be especially beneficial during pregnancy to help new moms develop a healthy relationship with their own body, to help nourish the new body within them.

Pregnancy involves body and mental shifts. Having a healthy perception of what these changes mean eases the anxiety of new changes. As the body changes to accommodate for a new person, this can be viewed in a positive light. For instance, a baby bump becoming bigger is not a bad thing. Rather than seeing it as weight gain, it can be seen as the child growing to eventually become a person in this world that has the capacity to do good and change our world for the better. The female body gets to be the sole provider of nourishment for nine months leading up to the baby entering this world. This can be seen as a privilege, not a punishment.

The pregnant body changes, but this phase of life opens the door for mental changes that will not only benefit the woman, but also the child. Instead of worrying about the physical changes that occurs during pregnancy, think of the purpose for why all of these changes are happening; to give life and opportunity to a new person in this world.