Eating Disorders and Pregnancy Essay

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Eating Disorders and Pregnancy



Pregnancy has often been viewed as a period of great developmental change for women. This is also a period in which previously dormant psychological issues rise to the surface and when current issues have the potential to worsen. Because anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa occur primarily in young women, many of whom are of childbearing age, it is important to evaluate the potential medical and psychological consequences when an eating disordered woman becomes pregnant. During pregnancy, conflicts about body changes, alterations in roles, additions of responsibility, and concerns about a woman’s own mothering abilities are prevalent. Many of these concerns are also of great importance
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Less common are cases in which the misuse of diuretics has resulted in the deaths of mother and child. Also found was that the use of excessive exercise in anorexic patients has shown an increase in the risk of miscarriage and premature birth. Overall, the most common complications associated with anorexia nervosa during pregnancy include low birth weight, delayed development, premature death, and prenatal death of infants (Franko and Walton 1993).

Pregnancy has also been suspected as a cause of anorexia nervosa in young mothers. One case study (Benton-Hardy and Lock 1998) had as its subject a 17-year-old female who was a symptomatic prior to pregnancy. Most psychological and social theories of anorexia nervosa have focused on the developmental pressures that challenge adolescent girls. Pregnancy, which causes profound physical, emotional, and cognitive changes, could represent an amplification of these developmental pressures. Physically, pregnancy shares some features with puberty – dramatic hormonal shifts, weight gain, confirmation of one’s sexual potential. To survive this challenge requires flexibility of character and confidence in one’s body to undergo a dramatic but temporary transformation. It is possible that pregnancy, especially in adolescents, creates a feeling of being out of control and overwhelmed. Hence, pregnancy could…

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