What is Pregorexia?

‘Pregorexia’ is a term used by the media to describe eating disorders that surface during pregnancy and which sometimes carry on throughout the pregnancy. I was curious to know what the medical profession had to say about this and checked out the Mayo Clinic’s website. A certain Roger W. Harms, M.D. commented that, “Although health care providers don’t uniformly recognise the term, the behaviour associated with pregorexia is real and could harm a baby’s health.”

Failure to gain the expected pregnancy weight may indicate that a woman is suffering from an eating disorder. Skipping meals, calorie counting, obsessive food-related behaviours and preferring to eat alone are also potential red flags. Excessive exercise is another sign that a woman is rejecting the necessary weight gain. This non-acceptance may lead her to experience irritability and an exceptional level of stress. This is true for women who have a history of eating disorders and also for those who don’t.

‘Pregorexia’ leads the expectant mother to be in a serious condition of fatigue, low nutrition and in a near state of depression. The growing baby will take what it needs from the mother but it may get to a point where there are simply not enough nutrients to sustain them both. If it is suspected that a person is suffering from an eating disorder during pregnancy, it is important that professional advice is sought.

As with any eating disorder, the illness can have grave consequences. There are also serious consequences for the baby. These include foetal mortality, spina bifida, cerebral palsy, miscarriage, low birth weight and pre-term birth.

There is nothing wrong with engaging in an appropriate exercise regime and proper diet during pregnancy. It is a well-known fact that there are numerous benefits to be gained from this. So, with this knowledge, why are some women risking their own lives and that of their unborn child in an attempt to remain pin thin throughout their pregnancy?

I tend to point a finger at our celebrity and media-obsessed culture that encourages women to look as ‘unpregnant’ as possible during pregnancy and to lose the weight quickly afterwards. What women need to consider is that celebrities make their living from their body or look. They have the resources to make any quick weight loss goals a reality. This may include personalised and restrictive diets, chefs, nannies, personal trainers, seamstresses and stylists.

This is certainly not the norm. You will not be required to walk down a runway or make a red carpet appearance within a month of giving birth. And there will not be a herd of paparazzi hiding around every corner to photograph you, either. You can therefore, afford to take your time when it comes to losing your baby weight and to opt for a safe and pressure-free way to do so.

Those nine months of pregnancy are the only shot you’ll ever get at giving your growing baby the very best start in life. Don’t waste it. Being a parent means taking responsibility for the well-being of your child from the word go and more often than not, that requires putting his or her needs before your own. You probably also have a career, a partner, maybe another child, as well as other things to tend to and you very likely need the extra energy at this stage in your life.


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