Anorexia and Pregnancy

Kimberly A. Tessmer's picture

QUESTION

Dear Nutritionist,
I have suffered from anorexia in the past and currently am now overweight. I weigh 160 pounds and I am 5 feet with a medium to large build. The idea of being pregnant has stirred my anorexia awake.

To keep from starving my baby I need to know how many calories I should be consuming in a day while pregnant so I can keep track closely to make sure I eat enough.

Thanks.
Gayle-Anne

ANSWER

Hello Gayle-Anne,
With your past history of anorexia it is vitally important for you to speak with your doctor about this issue as soon as possible! You should receive proper prenatal care and you should be sure your doctor knows your entire eating disorder history! Your doctor can be sure you are taken care of properly and can ensure you receive counseling, which can help you cope with eating more and gaining weight during this time. After-care is just as important! You need to make sure that you are able to lose your postpartum weight properly and safely after pregnancy!

Most importantly, don't go it alone! Get the help you need for both you and your baby. Even if you feel it is not out of hand and you can manage it, still get some help! As you go through your pregnancy and gain weight (the average pregnant woman should gain between 25 and 35 pounds to have a healthy child) there may be more issues that surface that you are not ready to deal with. With proper care, you can overcome your eating disorder and have a healthy child. BUT you need to be proactive!

Not fueling your body correctly and not eating enough during pregnancy can have definite negative effects on your baby's growth and development as well as your health. You should be shooting for 300 calories per day above your maintenance level. That averages out to about 2,200 - 2,500 calories per day during pregnancy. Calorie needs do depend on many individualized factors and your doctor can help pinpoint your specific needs.

A dietitian can also be a great source of information and help. You may want to ask your doctor for a referral or search for a dietitian in your area that is an expert in eating disorders and/or pregnancy.

Good Luck!
-- Kimberly, RD LD