Hey there! Welcome back. Before we jump in, I want to clarify that I am not currently struggling with any eating disorder while pregnant. I had some hurdles and challenging thoughts to overcome, but I am intentionally seeking professional help during this time to ensure that I do not harm myself or the baby.
Despite that, I do have a history of disordered eating– from extreme restriction, to immediate binging, to purging and shaming myself for my habits. I had an awful cycle, and finally found food freedom and a healthy relationship with health and fitness. What did I do to overcome these thoughts, and prepare myself for pregnancy? And what am I doing now to make sure I keep me and the baby safe?
- Learning to love my body: Before getting pregnant, I did a LOT of work to learn to love my body. It was hard work. But I did it. And you can too. Find the things that your body CAN do, and start appreciating those things NOW.
- Preparing for change: I knew that my body would change while pregnant, and it’s something I told myself every day when my husband and I decided that we would begin trying to get pregnant. We got pregnant the first try, so I didn’t have much time to do this, which is why I struggled in the first trimester.
- Find your mantra: I needed a new coping mechanism. I used to use this mental imaging process, and it wasn’t working anymore. I needed to know that I was still in control of my actions, even if I wasn’t going to be in control of my body (or my moods). My new mantra was “I might not feel in control of _____, but I still have control of _____.”
- Find your lifeline: Who are you goingto go to when you are struggling? You have to be 110% open and honest with them. I knew I could tell my husband the truth without him getting mad, and since he knows my counselor, I knew he would reach out to her if I needed more support. You have to have your go-to people (I suggest 2-3) so that you don’t harm yourself or that little human growing inside of you!
- Talk to your baby: You don’t have a bump at first. You can’t feel any movement. Being pregnant doesn’t seem real! So what do you do when you experience the initial bloat, change in diet and desire to eat, etc? TALK TO YOUR BABY. I needed to remind myself that I was not only doing things for myself, but for another human, and I needed to start developing a relationship with him or her. I would say things like, “I don’t want to eat, but I want you to grow,” or “I’m confused about what my body is doing, but I’m not mad at you. I love you already.”
Being pregnant after having a history of disordered eating is HARD. It is still hard for me. However, I was able to overcome several challenges in my first trimester, and I know you can too. Please, seek professional help if you know that you cannot hold yourself accountable. You have to eat. You have to show yourself grace and love. You have to nourish your little one!