Monday, August 11, 2008

Pregorexia: What Happens When Moms-to-Be Aren't Eating Enough?

We have written before about the insane amount of pressure pregnant women and new moms face in our "get your pre-baby body back" culture. We've also talked about the fact that we now need a new dictionary to define all the terms that are popping up to describe disordered eating behavior, a surefire sign that our collective attitudes about food and weight have gone off the deep end. Now we've officially arrived at the intersection of these two observations: Pregorexia.

"Pregorexia" is another media-coined term used to refer to mothers who are so terrified of gaining weight during their pregnancies that they diet and put their own health and the babies health at risk. Those health risks include anemia, low birth weight, heart palpitations, and rickets. Of course, women are warned not to gain too much weight either, because that comes with a whole other set of health risks. No pressure or anything. Just get it perfect, okay?

We're hearing a lot of accusations of women putting vanity before the health of their babies. We'd like to slow down the judgment train for a second. It's a pretty widely accepted fact that many women have serious body image issues, weight concerns (and yes, eating disorders) before they get pregnant, right? So why are we all so quick to assume that those issues will magically melt away as soon as women decide to become moms? What resources are available to help us cope with the body changes and body pressures that come with pregnancy and motherhood? The fact is that we're surrounded by "Celebrity Moms' Diet Tricks!" magazine covers (sometimes in the OB/GYN's office, thanks very much), but the voices of reason are few and far between.

Our recommendations? Women need doctors who are sensitive to and knowledgeable about body image issues, and we need to talk honestly with each other about how we're coping with these pressures instead of quizzing each other on how much weight we've gained or lost during and after pregnancy. What do you think? [Daily Mail] via [Shine]


brie said...

A blog post I recently wrote was sited on BuzzFeed under their Pregorexia section. I was so hurt by the term, because it automatically makes one assume that body weight is more important than the life inside you. Yes, there are major issues with this sort of thing right now, but I think the term "pregorexia" is another way for the media to streamline anorexia, to make it seem normal.

My blog is the first sited on the page.

Cathy Adamkiewicz said...

Thank you for this excellent post -- I will share it with my newly pregnant daughter.
I'm keenly interested in how the culture affects our body image. I'll be visitng again!