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Afraid of postnatal body/eating issues

(12 Posts)
Isthreetoomany Tue 19-Jul-11 14:57:43

I have a history of anorexia as a teenager, and am currently pregnant with my third child. I was fine with my 2 previous pregnancies, but have been struggling this time round.
I was rubbish with food during the first trimester (all triggered by morning sickness - I know I should have eaten to make myself feel better but I reacted to the sickness by missing meals, doing lots of fast walking on school run and generally exhausting myself).
Now I am further on with the pregnancy (seen the baby on scans etc) I feel much better about food and am eating much better. I am still finding it hard to eat every time I am hungry but I am eating 3 meals (by that I mean I can't snack if I need to).
I have talked to my GP who was very helpful, and initially was weighing me regularly, but that has now stopped (although I was actually losing weight rather than gaining, but I think she thought I would restrict further if I knew what my weight was and how it was going up, so she thought better not to be weighed). The GP did say to go back if it became a real problem, which it is not at the moment, but I know that I would find it very hard to go back if it did become more of a problem. She did offer counselling but I said I didn't think I needed it.
Although I am eating ok at the moment for the baby, I am very worried about how my body will be after the birth - having had 2 children before I know how rubbish I am going to feel. I am finding that I am already planning how I will cut back on food after the baby is born, yet the rational part of me knows that if I do that I will be a complete mess trying to breastfeed and care for my 2 older children whilst restricting food.
Do you think it is worth mentionning this to my midwife? Is there anything they can actually do to help, bearing in mind I am ok at the moment, I am just worried about how things will be in a few months?

bagelmonkey Tue 19-Jul-11 18:47:04

You should tell someone. It could be your midwife, GP or a supportive friend or family member. Someone needs to be looking out for you if you lose insight.
For me my mum would be the person for the job. She's blunt, determined and very matter of fact. She'd pitch up and cook for me and tell me exactly what I needed to eat to breast feed, but also get me out and about to keep fit and tell me I could lose weight later. I hope you have someone like that.

madmouse Tue 19-Jul-11 19:07:10

Yes it is worth talking to your midwife as some element of planning ahead is possible - you may benefit from regular support and encouragement after the birth or even counselling if you need it then.

Isthreetoomany Wed 20-Jul-11 00:22:54

Thanks for your replies.
Bagel - Your mum sounds great. I have friends with mums like yours, but unfortunately mine is equally as rubbish with food as me!
But I will mention it to the midwife. Feel like a bit of a fraud as I am doing ok at the moment, but I really don't think I will be able to pro-actively seek out any help if things get difficult after the birth, so it probably does make sense to plan ahead as much as I can.
Thanks again.

ITryToBeZenBut Fri 22-Jul-11 13:23:11

hi three

firstly, well done on your recovery from anorexia.

I agree it's a good idea to mention to the midwife. I had an ED from university onwards which lasted a decade and I've now been recovered for several years. I too am ok. However, I have also noticed some old 'thoughts' returning as I'm putting on weight in first trimester from having to eat carbs to keep the sickness at bay which I'm feeling uncomfortable with on some level.

If you're thinking of restricting now - maybe best to take advantage of a little support now to help you rationalise your thoughts away now. Just having thoughts now doesn't mean you'll end up down the rabbit hole again but why not look to nip it in the bud now. I bet it wouldn't take much. I think I might do the same - just on a practical level I do not want to know my weight. I haven't weighed myself in years as I find numbers very triggering.

good luck.

Isthreetoomany Fri 22-Jul-11 16:04:36

Hi ITryToBe - good luck with your pregnancy also, and well done on managing to eat the carbs to keep the sickness away.

Sticking to not wanting to know your weight sounds very sensible - I also hadn't weighed myself in years until very recently (still don't have my own scales at home, but I was weighed at my booking appt and then again a number of times at the GPs). If you haven't had your booking appt yet, then be aware that I think midwives now weigh everyone at booking (though it may be different in different areas). I hadn't realised this, and was caught off guard and found out my weight, which really hasn't helped things at all. I should have asked to have been weighed so that I couldn't see the reading. I then ended up visiting my GP, who weighed me a number of times over a period. By this point, I was keen to know what I weighed (though this knowledge was not ultimately very helpful!).

I'm not really thinking of restricting now - I am just a little bit afraid of how big I will be in a few months time and what it will be like after the birth. I didn't speak to my midwife in the end, as it was someone different again (seem to see a different one each time). Also I am momunmentally rubbish at talking to anyone about anything related to my own mental health. But I have at least spoken to my GP, so hopefully will be able to go back there again if things do get difficult.

Isthreetoomany Fri 22-Jul-11 23:51:58

I am also inexplicably finding that I can't take my pregnancy multivitamins anymore. I have no idea why this is - as obviously they do not involve any fat/calories and should be a very good thing for the baby. They just seem like too much nourishment somehow, though I'm not sure why I would think that. Anyone else whose had an ED had this problem in pregnancy or just me?

I managed to take them in the first trimester though, when I was restricting food a lot but also when they would have been most important for the baby. So I think I am probably ok not to take them now, I just don't understand why I am not able to take them as extra 'goodness' without any fat/calories. Surely I shouldn't be seeing them as a 'bad' food.

ITryToBeZenBut Mon 25-Jul-11 10:00:45

Thanks for letting me know I might be weighed more than I expect wink - I can at least prepare myself mentally.

I think it's brilliant you're aware it might be a problem and are thinking ahead. You can't do more to help yourself than be aware and it's very positive to be spotting things and wonderng if they might be an issue.

Have you booked to do any antenatal yoga or anything like that? I'm a huge fan of yoga - helped me hugely with my recovery as I learned to see my body in a different way as capable of doing things and helped relax me enough to get rid of the voices in my head. Might be worth thinking about to help quell any panic that might arise as the weight goes on. I'm not doing much at the mo as first trimester not the best time to practice but after 12 weeks will do a daily practice and I know it'll settle me back into my own skin.

Can't offer much advice on the vitmins but I don't like them although I think it;s because they turn my wee lurid yellow for the whole day and I just find it disconcerting. grin However, if you are viewing things as good and bad and starting to think in black and white terms now - it might be worth reaching out to BEAT or somewhere anonymous for a little support now (especially if you keep getting a different mw) or reconsider the counselling - nip thingsin the bud. I know it can be excruciating talking about yourself and feelings/thoughts and well done for doing so on here and hope someone else has some more thoughts for you.

Isthreetoomany Wed 27-Jul-11 01:11:53

I've not done antenatal yoga or any kind of relaxation (this is my third child so I do not get much chance to relax smile but it does sound useful). My husband is not aware of my previous eating issues which is what makes it difficult to access any kind of counselling as I would not have childcare, but I hadn't thought about antenatal yoga or other forms of relaxation (swimming etc) that perhaps I could do without having to tell DH about eating issues.

I do need to find ways to relax as I am starting to panic a little about the weight gain. I have gained quite a bit in a relatively short time, I think because I restricted so much in the first trimester. I am having days where I feel huge all over, I think exacerbated by slight pregnancy related swelling of legs and feet. I have also been upset by catching sight of my own reflection/size in shop windows etc. I possibly should go back to the GP and say that I would like counselling after all, but I feel a bit of a fraud given I am eating ok at the moment.

I think finding out the sex has helped me though, as I've been better able to visualise/bond with the baby as a tiny person who will be hungry if I do not feed myself properly.

madmouse Wed 27-Jul-11 09:10:01

'I possibly should go back to the GP and say that I would like counselling after all, but I feel a bit of a fraud given I am eating ok at the moment'

Noooooo you're not a fraud at all shock - you're taking sensible action while you still have full insight in what is going on. If this is how you feel this IS the time to go to the GP for counselling and I'm 100% sure that s/he will appreciate that. It is 300% easier to nip a problem in the bud than to fix it later.

gourd Wed 27-Jul-11 13:33:55

Oh I can sympathise with this. I was fine when I had my LO - my problem is now, I either don't eat all day at work, and go 10+ hours between meals, or else can't stop eating cake every couple of hours. It seems there is nothing in between at the moment - I miss my LO so much and I am not in control of the situation. I know that it's during this type of stressful period when I tend to revert to old eating issues, so I really can sympathise.

Perhaps you can try to focus on the fact that you need to eat well to feed your baby and to recover from the birth and pregnancy which really take it out of your body. I ate massses of dried fruit (needed it, didn't go to loo properly for 5 days after the birth!) and I ate loads of fruit, fruit smoothies and Total Greek yogurt as snacks. All very enjoyable to eat but I still lost weight despite eating a huge amount of food. Maybe try to forget about food and just focus on your baby and enjoying the first precious weeks and months rather than worrying about your body. I did worry about mine but it was such a waste of emotional energy worrying, as my body went back to normal very quickly and I think it usually does if you're focussed on your baby and you generally eat well anyway and get a bit of exercise. You need to save all your emotional energy for the sleepless nights and hard work ahead not waste it on beating yourself up!

I agree that you must tell your GP, miodwife and HV so that they are aware, but above all you must help yourself by doing the things that make you happy and take your mind away from the problem. Being busy will probably help anyway - it's possible that you will find you have so much else to worry about and focus on that you get through without reverting to old habits and behaviours. Initially I'd suggest some form of congnitive behaviour self-help if you have found this helpful in the past - I think eating disorders are deep problems that have to be managed if the issues behind them can't be completely resolved for good. It's a really good sign that you have recognised these behaviours/thoughts in yourself already - this means it's unlikely that you will go too far down that path again as you have identified it already as a possible problem. If you have beaten it before you must know how to change your focus mentally/emotionally away from food/body when you are stressed or in emotional turmoil (whether through cognitive behaviour techniques or though talking/working though deep-rooted emotional issues) and that is half the battle. It is almost like an addiction, where a stressor lead you to do something that is harmful to yourself. You may not be able to eliminate the stress completely (or the way you feel about it) but you can change your response to it. I wish you the very best of luck.

Isthreetoomany Sun 31-Jul-11 12:44:31

Hi Gourd - sorry you are also finding things hard even some time after the birth. I am sure you are right about the need to focus on eating well for breastfeeding/postnatal recovery, and I hope that the thought of that will keep me eating ok through that period.

There was a self help book that I found really useful when I was having CBT for my eating disorder whilst at uni, perhaps you would find it useful too - Getting Better Bit(e) by Bit(e). It was written for people with bulimia but my therapist recommended it as a good book for people who restrict too. I need to buy another copy (I am only just getting to grips with the idea of an ED as something that can hang around for a lifetime, I had thought I was fine after I recovered previously, and hence I gave my original copy away to a secondhand bookshop many years ago!).

It was such a long time ago that I had the CBT that I think I have forgotten a lot of the techniques, so hopefully the book will help. I also want to make sure that I am able to change the focus to something helpful rather than destructive (as at the moment I feel panicked when I think about how huge my stomach will feel after the birth, when the size/fatness will not be 'justified' by a baby being inside. When I feel like this I feel as though the best release from it would be to self harm, though I have not done this previously and do not want to go down that route. I realise this is not normal thinking sad, which makes me very aware that I do need to make sure I can change my focus in a helpful way).

Hopefully though, as you say, I may just be far too busy with my newborn and 2 older children to have any time to worry about my eating, and I will just go onto autopilot and eat fine.

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