by Courtney Sullivan
While all new moms worry about losing their baby weight, an alarming number of women refuse to gain weight in the first place. Meet the mommyrexics -- pregnant women who are desperate to keep the nine months of weight gain to an absolute minimum.
Pregnancy.org member, Christina is a 36-year-old mom pregnant with her second child. She battles bulimia every day.
Christina shares her story: "I was about 20 when my eating disorder really became apparent. I think I'd always struggled with food and weight but using food as I did with the bulimia didn't really stand out until then. Early on it was very manageable, but that's the problem. It's so addicting. At the height of my bulimia, I was bingeing and purging 16 to 20 times a day...yes, a DAY, and keeping down the equivalent of a cucumber."
During her last pregnancy she says she was blissful. For some reason gaining didn't bother her. After her son was born, her baby weight dropped slowly. She worked out and watched her diet, but it didn't seem to matter.
Christina continues her story: "When I got pregnant this time around, I knew I was in for a struggle but I wasn't aware how hard it would be. Thinking I'm too fat, or that my body isn't what I want it to be, being out of control or feeling inadequate really make the urges come back. I actually did give in early on but I felt so incredibly guilty that I knew I couldn't allow purging to happen again, no matter what. I had to change my mindset."
Here's what Christina decides to do: "I started eating tons of fruit and veggies and walking about three miles a day with my son every morning. It has made a world of difference. I am more able to block out all those negative feelings and know that this is necessary for my health and my baby's."
Expectant moms realize they must gain weight to produce a healthy baby but many worry they'll never be able to regain their pre-baby figures. For women with an eating order, that worry escalates. A Swedish study of women who had given birth recently found that 11.5 percent had a past or current eating disorder. Are you at risk for mommyrexia with this pregnancy? Here are some questions to find out:
Okay, you've answered these questions honestly to yourself. Do your answers suggest you're struggling with your changing pregnant body?
According to Alexandra Allred, pregnancy fitness trainer and Pregnancy.org's Fitness Expert, gaining too much during pregnancy increases the risk of diabetes and other problems. However, not gaining enough weight presents its own set of dangers. Your baby might grow slower, have a higher risk of some defects and breathing problems and lower Apgar scores right after birth. Mom's problems include nutritional deficits, heart disease, anemia, preterm labor and over-exercise injury.
"By the end of the second trimester," Alex says, "your joints loosen in preparation for childbirth. Ligaments stretch very easy and with more intense, high impact workouts, ACL's, ligaments and tendons are at risk of injury." Alex continues to state that, "Olympic coaches and professional trainers, therefore, INSIST that their athletes back off at this point.
Athletes who took it easy and looked at their pregnancy with more respect -- got some exercise but focused on great sleep and proper nutrition -- came back stronger and faster than ever. There is a tremendous Wall of Fame for Olympic Moms who came back to win gold. If you're only worried about weight gain or not getting your figure back, you can't and must not do this to yourself and your baby."
Our expert has these suggestions for each mom-to-be: