You may have come across the term Pregorexia in connection with some pregnant celebrities when rumors of actors such as Nicole Kidman and Angelina Jolie having pregorexia did the rounds. But what is pregorexia, its symptoms and can this really be much of a problem for the fetus and mom to be?
What is pregorexia?
The word pregorexia comes from ‘pregnancy’ and ‘anorexia’ and is used to describe an obsession or preoccupation that some pregnant women may have with their pregnancy.
They may have body image issues that result in obsessing over their weight and preventing normal and required weight gain during pregnancy.
This is not a medical condition that is recognized by the medical community; rather it is a term that has come into common use due to media coinage. Many blame celebrities for this phenomenon, for seeming to gain little or no weight all through pregnancy and looking no different apart from the baby bump; appearing in public scant weeks after their delivery looking as though they never were pregnant.
What are the symptoms of pregorexia?
A woman may be obsessive about what and how much she eats and may be constantly preoccupied with keeping her weight down even though she knows she is pregnant. Rather than “eating for two” it could become the case of “starving for two”.
There could be excessive exercising and compulsion to exercise no matter what. The focus on calories consumed and burned is very sharp and constant.
Pregnant women with pregorexia may eat alone or find reasons to skip meals. They may even speak of their pregnancy as though it weren’t real.
They may speak proudly about being able to fit into their regular jeans half way into their pregnancy and about not “looking pregnant from behind”.
Could pregorexia cause problems for mother and child?
Pregorexia is not a common phenomenon. It is rare but it is known to happen among women who have a history of poor body image, eating disorders and a poor social support system.
In many cases, pregorexia could have serious consequences for the bay, increasing risk of premature labor and delivery, as well as low birth weight. The baby could also have increased chances of problems such as anemia, rickets, ADHD, heart disease, poor growth and mental development, and so on.
With several possible consequences to the health and wellbeing of mother and child, any issues relating to disordered eating and body image should ideally be addressed before pregnancy.