Body Image Issues While Pregnant -- What’s Normal & What’s Pregorexia?

Jenny Erikson Health Check

As someone who has struggled with body image issues for basically as long as I can remember -- pregnancy was a rough time. It’s tough to live in a culture where women are valued and judged based on how trim their figures are and then, all of a sudden, spend nine months with an ever-expanding midsection, swollen everything, and stretchmarks as evidence of rapid weight gain.

It’s even tougher for women who have struggled with full-on eating disorders before becoming pregnant. Those warped body images run deep in the psyche, and if you’re prone to feeling guilty at the mere thought of eating a second (tiny) helping, it’s something that you really need to watch if you’re incubating a baby.

Your kid doesn’t care that you’re pissed at the weight gain or sad that you’ve grown out of your skinny jeans by 10 weeks. He just needs nourishment to grow into a healthy, full-term baby.

More from The Stir: 'Pregorexia': Disturbing Stay-Skinny-During-Pregnancy Trend Is on the Rise

There are certain things you can do while pregnant to keep in shape as much as possible and help you feel like you still have some sort of control over what’s happening to your body. But then there are times when things get taken too far. If that happens, it can develop into what’s known as pregorexia, and it’s estimated that as many as 1 in 15 pregnant women struggle with symptoms of it.

Here are 7 normal things to do for your pregnant body and when they cross over into pregorexia territory.

Normal: Sticking to a meal plan that’s been approved by your doctor and counting calories to make sure you’re not over-indulging too much.
Pregorexia: Keeping that calorie limit far below what your doc recommends.

Normal: Feeling a little guilty for eating an entire pint of Ben & Jerry’s in front of Hulu.
Pregorexia: Making yourself sick so you don’t digest the calories.

Normal: Maintaining an exercise regimen similar to what you did before you were pregnant -- with any doctor recommended modifications, of course.
Pregorexia: Taking a spin class, doing hot yoga, and picking up weight training as soon as the plus sign appears on the pregnancy test.

Normal: Watching your portion sizes.
Pregorexia: Skipping meals.

Normal: Lamenting a bit as you fold your pre-pregnancy jeans and stick them in the bottom of your dresser for at least the next several months.
Pregorexia: Sobbing in the fetal position out of fear that your body is ruined forever when you can’t button your jeans anymore.

Normal: Moaning and groaning about your changing body (hey, it’s a rite of passage!).
Pregorexia: Keeping all your fears and anxiety to yourself.

Normal: Grieving a little that your body will likely never be the same again, but understanding that the sacrifice is worth it.
Pregorexia: Letting that grief consume you or even feeling resentful toward your baby.

Pregnancy isn’t usually the easiest time in a woman’s life, but crippling anxiety over your body image isn’t healthy for you or the baby. If you feel like you’re obsessing too much about weight gain while pregnant, talk to your doctor about what you can do to stay healthy physically and mentally. Your growing baby needs you.

Did you worry about weight gain too much when you were pregnant?

 

Image via Stephan Pasch/Flickr

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