What is Pregorexia?
Pregnancy is a risk incident for all women, so they will experience various difficulties throughout gestation. Pregorexia is a condition where pregnant ladies experience extreme fear for the pregnancy weight gain and fear to experience changes in the body during the pregnancy. As a result of the extreme fear to experience pregnancy-related weight gain, women with Pregorexia will avoid calorie intake and try to engage in unnecessary physical exercises to prevent weight gain. These behaviors will increase the risk during the pregnancy and increase the chance for pregnancy complications. Preterm babies and lower birth weight babies are the two main complications associate with Pregorexia.
What causes Pregorexia?
Sometimes this is considered as one of the eating disorders during pregnancy. Most of the women who experience Pregorexia will have symptoms similar to patients with anorexia nervosa. Both theses condition shows some similar characteristics in their behavior. They overthink about the weight gain and they restrict calories from their diet. The majority of the pregnant women who suffer from Pregorexia have already experienced anorexia nervosa before becoming pregnant. So there is a higher risk for the ladies to experience Pregorexia when they already have anorexia nervosa before their pregnancy. Few women start experiencing this condition only after becoming pregnant.
Following are some of the reasons behind the origin of Pregorexia.
- Having a family history of eating disorders
- Experiencing stress when thinking of a new position, new job, etc.
- Family background, culture and live in a society where they appreciate being thin is as perfect and healthy.
- Having a stressful experience related to physical trauma such as rape incidences.
- Hormonal changes and chemical imbalances within the body.
- Genetical reasons.
What are the signs and symptoms of Pregorexia?
- During the pregnancy, women will experience weight gain and this is considered as a positive mark during the pregnancy. But pregnant women who suffer from Pregorexia are unable to increase their weight during the pregnancy.
- Normally pregnant women will increase the intake of nutritious foods to meet the nutritional needs of the mother and the fetus. But these women always skip meals and restrict the intake of foods.
- They will talk and consider more about the calorie count. They keep on counting the calorie before the meal.
- Talking and discussing pregnancy is an unrealistic experience.
- Engaging in unwanted physical exercises during pregnancy.
- Measuring weight gain several times a day.
- Thinking too much about weight gain and body shape.
What are the potential complications of Pregorexia during pregnancy?
- During the pregnancy, enough nutritional intake is very essential to cope with the bleeding during the delivery and to meet the nutritional requirement of the baby. The total blood volume will increase during the pregnancy to supply the required blood to the developing fetus and to compensate with the blood that gets lost during the pregnancy. Enough calorie and nutritional intake are very important during the pregnancy to meet the above-mentioned requirements. If the required amount of nutrition and calories are not supplied within the gestational period, it can result in complications during the pregnancy as well as create complications within the baby and the mother even after the delivery.
- Pregnant women can become anemic, where anemia can reduce the oxygen supply to the baby. The lower level of oxygen supply during pregnancy can restrict the brain development of the fetus.
- Inadequate nutrition to the fetus results in lower birth weight babies. During the intrauterine period, the brain and the other organs get developed. If the fetus is not receiving enough nutrition that is necessary for the development and growth, it will affect the weight of the baby.
- Inadequate maternal nutritional status can induce premature baby deliveries, where can affect the health of the baby.
- Lower birth weight babies will have the chance of bleeding from the brain. Increase the risk for respiratory distress syndrome and premature retinopathy.
- Undernutrition during pregnancy will increase the chance of miscarriages. Loss of pregnancy can occur as the maternal nutritional level is not good enough to bear a baby.
- More energy is needed for women to deliver a baby naturally. During vaginal delivery, huge energy is needed from the maternal side. If the mother is malnourished she will not be able to deliver the child successfully.
- Breech presentation is common among women with Pregorexia. And the chance of vaginal delivery is very less and the women need to undergo caesarian sections to deliver the baby.
- The delivered premature babies will have various health issues related to the cardiovascular system and brain development.
How to manage pregnant women with Pregorexia?
These women must be treated by focusing to meet their physical needs, emotional needs, as well as psychological support, which is important. The management plan will be different according to the level of the condition.
Women who have serious physical issues regarding malnutrition and lower BMI are treated with nutritional supplements to meet their nutritional requirements.
Women who need psychological and emotional support are given priority to solve these problems. If the woman is experiencing anxiety and any depressive condition, it can be treated with pharmacological treatments and other treatment options.
Coping and support for women with Pregorexia
It is very important to support the pregnant women in your family. The health of the mother as well as the fetus is very important. The health status of the mother can directly affect the health of the fetus. The initial health of the fetus is important because some of the growth retardations can end up in deformities which make the new one suffer the whole life.
If you identify an eating disorder of your pregnant wife or any family member who is pregnant, special attention must give to make corrections in their habits. The nutritional level is very important during the gestational period.
Open discussion regarding the food restriction can help to find out the actual reason behind this. Help the mother to get adopted to the new situation and help her to cope with the changes in body image. A pregnancy is happy news to a family. Let the mother feel that her pregnancy is a blessing to you all and help him to accept the image changes happily. As these weight gain and the image changes are temporary and help they to understand that the changes go away with time.
Get close to the mother and discuss the difficulties she is facing. Psychological support is important during pregnancy. Other than the weight gain, there may be various other body image changes due to the changes in the hormonal level. The body of the pregnant woman is naturally getting ready to hold the new baby. Accepting these natural changes will affect the child’s psychology as well.
Consider the cultural background of the mother, If there are cultural beliefs that affect badly on the health of the mother, discuss them with the elders and make changes to help the mother. Arranging the diet according to the mother’s preferences and making changes in the regular diet can increase the desire for food intake. Educate the mother regarding the importance of her nutrition and health to the family.
If one of your loved ones is suffering from Pregorexia, actually it is a stressful situation. There is a risk for both the mother and the fetus. Understanding the condition of the patient is important before supporting her. Initially, you can get the necessary knowledge regarding the condition where it will be helpful when dealing with the patient. The situation is a crisis. As the pregnancy alone is a risk situation, the combination of an eating disorder within the pregnancy period will be more stressful.
Spend some free time and take time to think about your health as well. Engage in relaxing activities and stress coping mechanisms can be used to reduce stress. Monitor the progression and the weight gain of the mother. Because the positive results can help in alleviating the stress.
What lifestyle changes and home remedies can help mothers with Pregorexia?
This is an eating disorder that some pregnant women experience. The changes in the lifestyle and some of the home remedies can be helpful for the management of the condition.
Arranging family activities and discussing the previous weight gain results of the elder members of the family and how the weight is automatically reduced after the delivery, can be helpful for the mother to accept the weight gain. And she will get to know that it is normal and she can maintain her normal weight after the birth of the baby.
There may be bad effects of food restriction, during the feeding lot of energy and calcium get loss from the body, if the mother is not taking enough nutrients, she will not be able to compensate for the situation. And the results will be even worse. Hair falling, thin skin and reduction of skin integrity are some of the later symptoms of low nutrition.
Anorexia is normal during pregnancy. Home remedies can be used to avoid experiencing anorexia and can increase the appetite of the mother.
How do you prevent Pregorexia?
- This condition can be prevented by following the correct treatments if you are suffering from anorexia nervosa.
- Avoid over things about the figure and accept the changes during pregnancy.
- Adopt the new situation and make it a reason for your happiness.