Your baby will probably weigh about 7 1?2 pounds at birth, but your body must gain about four times that amount to be able to provide support for your growing child. Women who are underweight and gain too little weight during their pregnancies are at a higher risk for fetal and neonatal deaths, say researchers, while obese women are more likely to suffer from gestational diabetes, hypertension, and prolonged labors.
One recent study by Harvard Medical School showed that women with eating disorders of any kind are more likely to develop complications during pregnancy, are more likely to give birth to a baby with a congenital problem, and will be more apt to suffer from postpartum depression. Women who abuse laxatives, purge, or rely on diuretics to lose weight during pregnancies have more fetal abnormalities because they rob their bodies of necessary nutrients and fluids.
If you're suffering from any type of eating disorder, now is the time to get help. Tell your provider about your problem and ask for a referral to a program or therapist specializing in eating disorders. Women who address eating disorders early in their pregnancies stand a good chance of having normal, healthy babies. If you can't stop vomiting, using laxatives, starving yourself, or engaging in any other behavior related to an eating disorder, it might be best to check yourself into a hospital or other facility where your nutrition can be professionally monitored while you continue therapy.
Originally published in You & Your Baby: Pregnancy.
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