Postpartum Eating Disorder: Signs, Causes & Treatment
Being pregnant and bringing a new life is no less than a miracle. We all celebrate pregnancy but are we mindful of what we tell the mother after childbirth? I’ve seen people give unsolicited advice to new mothers who have not asked for any.
People tell them what to eat, how to watch their weight, how tough/easy their body is, etc. There is a lot that is said to a mother either about how to raise their child or how to come back in shape.
According to several studies, it has been proven that pregnancy does trigger eating disorders in many women. One of the reasons that were found was body image issues. Along with that, there are other stressors like bringing a child up, keeping the child happy and comfortable, etc that can act as a trigger.
If you are feeling similar pressure mama, you’re not alone! There are hundreds out there facing the same demon. Let’s understand postpartum eating disorders together so that you can identify them soon and do what’s necessary.
Postpartum And Eating Disorder: What’s The Connection?
A postpartum eating disorder is a self-explanatory term, it means eating disorders that occur after childbirth. There are various reasons for someone to experience postpartum eating disorders.
To understand postpartum eating disorder one needs to understand the relationship between the two. For a woman who has been struggling with an eating disorder before her pregnancy, childbirth can trigger the onset of eating disorders during the postpartum period.
Another connection between pregnancy and eating disorders is the kind of stress involved during pregnancy and after childbirth. When a new mother is dealing with so many stressors at the same time, finding comfort/discomfort in food is natural.
Here’s a list of eating disorders a new mother can develop during the postpartum period. A new mother remains vulnerable up to 2 years after childbirth.
- Anorexia Nervosa
- Bulimia Nervosa
- Binge Eating Disorder
- Orthorexia Nervosa
- Rumination Disorder
- Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID)
Signs You Are Developing Eating Disorder After Childbirth
While pregnant and long after your delivery, food becomes a major part of your journey. Many women develop maladaptive eating patterns that do not do any good to the mother or the child. To know if you have developed postpartum eating disorders you need to watch out for these signs;
- Don’t connect with your baby: those women who have been dealing with eating disorders during or after pregnancy often find it difficult to bond with their newborn. They are so focused on their eating disorder that looking after the needs of their child takes a back seat.
- Are obsessed with working out: new mothers are often seen to be worried about how their body has changed. There are only a few that accept their new body. Those who have a postpartum eating disorder are hell-bent on getting back in shape that their need becomes an obsession.
- Develop an abnormal eating pattern: depending on the type of eating disorder you may have developed, you show signs of maladaptive eating behavior. You might either indulge in restricted eating, binge eating, self-induced vomiting after meals, etc.
- Overthink your size: you are obsessed with how much weight you have gained or how you look now. You miss the way your body looked before having a baby and now you simply resent your body.
- Overthink your food intake: you are always observant of what you are eating. You constantly think about what you should eat, how much to eat, when to eat, how to eat, etc. You become calculative of the food you consume.
- Social isolation: new moms with postpartum eating disorders tend to avoid meeting people. This can be because of their thoughts about their size or that they are ashamed of how they look post-childbirth.
- Negative body image: body image has been a major issue for a lot of postpartum disorders faced by women. In postpartum eating disorders also negative body image has a huge role to play. They simply stop feeling pretty from within.
What Are the Causes of Postpartum Eating Disorder?
We all know the postpartum phase is always the most vulnerable stage for a woman. They are susceptible to so many postpartum disorders. Postpartum eating disorders are one such struggle they have to face.
There is no one cause of a postpartum eating disorder. A new mother deals with strong emotions and feelings while being pregnant and after childbirth. These stronger feelings can cause a stressful storm in a woman’s life, resulting in disorders like postpartum eating disorders.
Let’s look at the list of stressors than can trigger postpartum eating disorders in a new mother;
- Birth trauma
- Comorbid perinatal mental illnesses
- Intense bodily changes
- Emotional Stressors
- Pressure of breastfeeding
- Weight stigma or body shaming
- Insecurity about food
- Dieting after childbirth to lose weight
- Family history of eating disorders
- Lack of support during the postpartum period
What Treatment Approach Can Be Used For Postpartum Eating Disorder?
For a new mother to develop postpartum disorders is very common. If you think you might have developed a postpartum eating disorder, talk to your doctor about it. Your eating habits can have a direct impact on your and your baby’s health.
You have to be honest with yourself about your concerns and let your doctor, friends, or family know so that you can begin the treatment. Once your postpartum eating disorder has been diagnosed your doctor can draw out a suitable plan for you.
To treat postpartum eating disorders, mental health professionals generally go with the following treatment options;
- Family therapy
- Nutrition counseling
- Medication (in severe cases)
That’s All Folks!
I hope you found this blog about postpartum eating disorders helpful and informative. Do share this blog with your friends and family, especially new mothers.
Thanks for reading.
Take care, stay safe and eat well!