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pregnancy and eating disorder

(17 Posts)
hipphopapotamus Sun 28-Feb-16 23:42:31

Just looking for advice really. I have had an eating disorder in the past, which I have struggled to keep under control. I am now 6 months pregnant. This has been so good for me and everything I worried about in terms of body changes and how I would react hasn't happened. I have been completely focused on eating well and trying my best for my baby.

However, I have continually been getting comments about how big I am, apparently all over. I am 5ft8 and gone up to a size 12..... Hardly massive!!! So I have tried to shrug this off. I had one woman make me worry so much as she was saying you have ballooned up far too much etc. Had my midwife app today and she said I was fine, completely unconcerned about my weight and bump is measuring as it should.

Saw my PIL who ripped me to pieces about how much weight I have put on. They took pictures and I said please don't, I don't want to see them etc, don't put them on FB etc. Then when I left, my MIL sent them to me. It is stupid really but just pics of me sat on the sofa chatting, one with me eating etc like non posed pics.... Awful pics!! I just broke down seeing them and as much as I am trying not to focus on it, it is all so triggering. I don't feel strong enough and all this focus on my weight is making me worry I will relapse, perhaps as soon as baby is born. My H is very supportive but didn't know the picture thing had happened. I suppose I just am looking for some wise words of advice.

Mslg Mon 29-Feb-16 00:02:18

It's not stupid at all. You can't help how you feel. I can empathise with you a little bit here, I had eating issues in my 20s and pregnancy has brought some of these insecurities to the surface again. Part of me is dreading getting a bigger for the reasons you described above. I think the hormones added into the mix don't help either. Try not to worry too much about what may or may not happen in the future and take comfort in the fact that you have been mindful of your eating disorder so far and seem to have done really well in focussing on eating well for yourself and your baby.

Try not to let the picture thing bother you too much. Some people are just insensitive idiots. flowers

applesvpears Mon 29-Feb-16 00:17:07

Photos are dreadful when you don't feel your best, even if they really are not ! When I had my baby shower I had to ask my friend to take some photos off FB because I truly looked like a whale and found it hard to see myself looking like that. I thought I looked okay in the mirror but the photos looked just awful. Your body will change but get into (or back into) fitness and healthy eating after and you will be fine. I have enjoyed having s more relaxed approach to diet and gym, which I think will make it easier to focus on getting fit again after.

MaryRobinson Mon 29-Feb-16 00:36:57

I think that rather than focussing on your size (which the professional has told you is fine), try to focus (a) on the motivations of the people who make you feel bad. Your PIL just sound like cunts frankly and (b) why you feel the negative people should be given priority in your thoughts- how many people have said you look good/glowing etc.

My FiL told me at seven months pregnant with twins that my belly would soon be the same size as my arse. Do you think the size of my bum is more relevant than his horrible character.

KeyboardMum Mon 29-Feb-16 01:02:40

I'm 20 weeks and in recovery from my eating disorder (Bulimic for 10 years). It was really bad right up until I found out about my pregnancy - at which point I stopped purging because I'm terrified that it will cause harm to my baby.

But it ain't easy.

I'm 5'3 and have also gone up to a size 12 from a size 8, despite regular visits to the gym and relatively normal eating habits, and I agree: it's really difficult to deal with. A lot of women find the body changes and weight gain during pregnancy hard enough as it is without the added anxiety of an eating disorder. I put on a stone after I stopped due to my body re-adjusting, and that wasn't even baby weight!

I totally get how you feel with the pictures on Facebook... What is wrong with people? Why can't they fuck off with their horrid pictures?

Here's my what I'm currently doing to help myself:

1) I go to the gym a few times a week.

Midwife says it's fine, and I'm quite physically fit. I jog, bike, cross train and swim. My routine takes about an hour, but I don't go if I feel sick or fatigued.

2) I avoid junk food

Junk food is one of my triggers, so I don't eat it. It's not in the house because we don't buy it.

3) I eat small portions often

If my stomach is uncomfortably full, it makes me feel like purging - so I have small portions of healthy, wholesome food often.

4) I communicate with my OH

Whenever I'm feeling triggered, stricken with guilt or down about my appearance and weight gain, I talk to my boyfriend. I get it all off of my chest. I explain to him that my problem has not just vanished - it's still there and I need his support to help me stay strong for baby's sake. Talking through what's going on in my head really does help - and my OH is keen to do anything to help this pregnancy remain healthy.

5) I have hidden the bathroom scales

I used to obsessively weigh myself, if my weight was even a fraction over what I thought it should be (8.5st) then I became extremely distressed. I can't be like that whilst I'm with child. I have to understand that I need to gain weight for baby, however much it terrifies me. So I have hidden the scales. I haven't weighed myself for months and yes - I do get anxious about it, but then I feel my baby kick and it helps me to dismiss my anxiety.

6) No full length mirrors

We moved recently and still haven't nailed up the mirrors or the pictures. This has actually helped me because I can't nit-pick at my body anymore. I can't see where I've put on the weight. We only have two small bathroom mirrors and the most you can see is down to your shoulders. I've found that it helps to avoid looking at myself in mirrors whilst I'm out too - anything to avoid triggering myself.

7) I look at my scan photos

I currently have two scan photos of my baby - one at 9 weeks, one at 14 and I look at them often. I also have a recording on my phone of my babys heartbeat. They help to remind me that I'm growing my kid. I can't give into my eating disorder because it will give my kid a bad start. I can't continue my eating disorder after the pregnancy because my kid will notice and may even pick it up. I can't allow that to happen, I just can't. Whatever guilt I feel about eating won't even compare to the guilt I'll feel if something happens to my baby because I couldn't keep it together.

8) Facebooks privacy settings

Like I mentioned earlier in this essay, I'm also sick of wankers on Facebook making me feel like shit - I've had blazing goes at my sister in the past for tagging me in unflattering photographs. To her, 'it's just a picture' and one which she finds amusing. To me, it's mental torture, I have to keep reminding myself that she doesn't have to watch me with my head in a toilet bowl for hours, so how can she know? I can't allow shit like that to trigger me, especially during my pregnancy. So here's what I did:

Facebook > settings > timeline and tagging > Only me

For everything. No one can currently post to my timeline, so pictures can't be seen on my page unless I approve them. If I do something social, I avoid pictures and refuse to look at them if they crop up. I know it's not ideal, but other than coming off of Facebook for a while, it's a better option. Don't let idiots on Facebook make you feel like shit, don't look at pictures sent to you.

9) 9 months of my life

As hard as this is, we need to stay healthy for baby and we need to continue to be healthy when baby is born. These 9 months are a turning point for us. These 9 months are the recovery period and we have to fight our eating disorders. 9 months feels like a long time whilst you are traversing the road, but it's a spit in the ocean when weighed up against the number of years we have in our lives. We need to use this time to prove to ourselves that we can be healthy, amazing mums. You can do it.

I get how you feel OP.

It's hard.

It's so bloody hard, and a lot of people don't/refuse to understand. They think that it just goes away, that you can just eat normally and feel fine - but no. It doesn't work like that. Would you say to a depressed person to just be happy? Of course not! It's the same with an ED, it doesn't vanish overnight - it lingers in your mind ALL the time, especially if you have been ill for a while and it's worse during pregnancy because you have the added guilt of harming the developing life inside you.

But you can do it, for babys sake, for your own sake - you can defeat this. Because if you relapse after the birth, baby will pick up on it.

PM me if you need to talk more, because I'll tell you what: it's not easy for me either.

Dixiechick17 Mon 29-Feb-16 03:13:18

I put on four stone when pregnant and was also worried about relapse post pregnancy, I wss constantly told how big I was, asked if there were two in there etc people seem to think they have a right to comment on size once you become pregnant. Yet if you turned around to your inlaws and commented on their weight it would be considered extremely rude.

I reminded my family that it was tough for me to put on weight and that the feelings left behind from having an eating disorder don't just go away.

Do your inlaws know you had an ED? Maybe get your DH to have a quiet word with them, not to tell them you had one, but to point out that they are being insensitive.

Junosmum Mon 29-Feb-16 06:45:23

Sorry this is happening to you. No words of advice, just to say some people are twats and think they can say anything to pregnant women without really thinking about it.

cheapredwine Mon 29-Feb-16 06:45:55

Yep, I can relate OP. Long time ED - moved between AN and BN then a mix of both then back to AN. I'm 21+4 with an IVF pregnancy. I have put on about 10Kgs so far, terrifying - I only know because having drips with require being weighed beforehand, I never look but sometimes they say out loud or I end up seeing in my notes anyway :/ I am partly absolutely loving, partly horrified at how much am eating! Exercise has pretty much gone out the window, and I was doing a lot. But just so bloody knackered. The weight is mainly bump and boobs. I absolutely love my bump, struggling bit more with the water balloons. But it's the rest of me I am scared about. I don't have any words of wisdom really, just you're not alone and it's fucking hard. Day by day, and it's ok to feel like you do. Your PIL sound a complete nightmare.

Sanch1 Mon 29-Feb-16 07:22:37

You need to get your DH to talk to his parents and tell him how utterly unacceptable it is to treat you that way and they are to stop! You can't do much about other people, other than to say 'My midwife is happy with my weight gain and my bump is measuring correctly thank you.' Or as i said to someone the other day, 'ive got a genuine excuse, whats yours?!'

Sunshine511 Mon 29-Feb-16 08:17:01

Hi OP. To give you a bit of my backstory, I suffered from bulimia for 8 years and have been recovered for about 4 years. It is one of the hardest things I have ever done and I just wanted to say to all you ladies who have managed to stay so strong at a time when your body is changing so much, you are doing so well and are truly an inspiration to many others going through the same struggles.

OP, you should be so proud of yourself! Think of everything you have achieved! Are you going to let some peoples nasty comments push you back 10 steps, or are your going to prove to yourself just how strong you can be? You have such a short time left of pregnancy and you have come so far! Things WILL get easier once your little one arrives and your body WILL get back to something which resembles your normal body and you will be so pleased you managed to rise above these rude and obnoxious comments!

On another note, something which took me a while to do was to learn to trust my body. So many years of eating disorders had left me clueless to my body's queues, like hunger, feeling full, I just couldn't listen to my body at all. Gradually over time, I realised that if I eat more in a day, or more in one sitting, than I should, the chances are, my body won't want so much at the next sitting/the following day! That fear of overeating has now disappeared and ironically, my pre pregnancy weight was the lightest I've ever been (a healthy weight though).

As someone that's life has truly changed for the better, managing to recover from this horrible illness has been truly life changing for me! You can do it OP! You're already doing it!! Just think, would letting bulimia creep back into your life make these comments easier or harder to deal with? In my experience, everything in life is harder to deal with when you throw an eating disorder into the mix!

Sending you lots of positivity and hugs! You've got this!!!!!

scaredofthecity Mon 29-Feb-16 08:36:37

I've got to say pregnancy has done wonders for my bn. (9 years sad )
I found it very hard to accept my weight gain but refused to purge in fear of harming my baby.
Once DS came I was too busy/tired to really care for a few months by which at least half the weight had fallen off, I then joined sw which was slightly triggering but did generally help me to loose the rest of my baby weight fairly easily. As well as bf- brilliant if you can do it.
I'm not going to lie I have had relapses but generally its been fairly under control.
I have noticed that when I do it I get spots, mouth ulcers and horrible ecxema. I feel rubbish, low in energy and more hungry and don't even really lose weight.
I don't want to binge in front of my son or for him to hear or see me purge and this has seriously cut it down for me. Plus the fact that I'm so busy and have less time to think about it.
Like sunshine I have started to listen to my body's cues and trust it to regulate my hunger. My weight has stabilised and I am pretty happy. I'm half a stone heavier than pre pregnancy but I have a much much healthier relationship with food.
I guess what I'm trying to say is it might just be alright. And if you do relapse slightly try not to beat yourself up too much. Look at it as a bigger picture rather than focusing on one event.
And use this time to learn how well your body does self regulate. How some days you just don't fancy much and those days balance the other days.

scaredofthecity Mon 29-Feb-16 08:37:42

Oh and sending you lots of positivity too!! :D

hipphopapotamus Mon 29-Feb-16 11:19:24

Thank you so much for all your replies. Honestly they have helped so much and it feels good to hear success stories and that I am not alone in this! After all it is such a secretive thing most of the time.

You have all given me a good boost and positivity and now I am determined to keep going. It is true, what are their intentions and why should I focus on their negativity. Of course I need to gain weight to have my baby and that is what I need to focus on. I just was so happy that I was doing well. Today I got told I was too thin before! You can't win! I would just love for noone to ever comment on my weight regardless but I know that is impossible and I just need to get to a better place in myself.

KeyboardMum, thank you so much, that was really really helpful and I am going to print it off so I can remind myself and use your suggestions. If I can just keep in my routine and focus on my baby, I hope I can continue to be healthy in my mind and body.

Seriously though, Thanks everyone!!

Sunshine511 Mon 29-Feb-16 11:36:19

Remember, we are always here if you're feeling low and in need of a boost! Sounds like you're doing incredibly well and you really should be proud of how far you've come x

Dixiechick17 Mon 29-Feb-16 19:47:35

I echo what sunshine said, you are doing amazingly. It is a really tough thing to go through, looking back I wish I had embraced my growing bump more, I felt huge and got upset by it, embrace your bump and feel proud. I'm 9 months post baby, and haven't relapsed, been too busy enjoying my little girl smile

hipphopapotamus Mon 29-Feb-16 22:47:00

Thanks, it has been great hearing how people are coping etc after birth. I hope that I can continue how I am at the moment. Honestly, today could have been a very different day, but all the support during this wobble has made me focus. It is good to talk to people who understand it, I am so used to hiding it.

KeyboardMum Tue 01-Mar-16 18:31:15

It's very easy to hide an ED. That's why they can be so dangerous and ravage your body unchecked for years.

They do so much damage, and because of the taboo surrounding them, much of this damage reins unchecked by loved ones, because we simply hide it, and we don't talk about it. We get so good at lying about it to others that we even convince ourselves that everything is okay ---> which is dangerous!
Unfortunately, under the surface; it really isn't okay. It usually takes some kind of emotional or organ breakdown, or a severely emaciated bodily appearance for another to even ask about it and even then we can be quite defensive of it.

If you get a moment, Google about EDs and brain chemistry. There's a fair amount of research into how restrictive behaviors negatively affect our brain and can actually re-wire them. There's also a bit of research into how certain brains are more likely to accommodate an ED due to the tendency for other restrictive behaviors: such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder.
(I have a cleaning OCD, but I've found that that has vastly improved since I stopped purging - it's a similar type of compulsive behavior).

Personally, I believe that the above is one of the reasons why an ED is difficult to conquer. That, factored in with the body dysmorphia and the emotional aspects, such the comfort or the immense guilt and self-loathing, etc, etc. If a behavior actively changes your brain chemistry when practiced over a period of time, your brain is wired to accept that behavior. Which means that it's going to take an immense amount of effort for you to overcome your ED.

Hence 'it ain't easy', because it really isn't!

That's why it's so important to accept that you have a problem and communicate it. Acceptance acknowledges that it's not normal behavior, so you can begin to actively change your habits and thus your thinking processes. It took me 10 years to accept that I had a problem sad and since you are in recovery hipphopapotamus, I assume that you have done the same so well done!! We can fight this together, our brains might have been re-wired, but they are our brains! They do what we say lol ;)

We just need to remind ourselves that after so much abuse and emotional torment, we can't just expect it to go away. Its going to take effort to repair the emotional damage. That's why communication is so important. We need to talk it through and address our triggers.

I found out that I'm having a little boy today smile

If your baby picks up on an ED whilst their brain is in overdrive after birth wiring and developing and synapsing like crazy, there's a good chance that they will express the same behaviors. Which is why we can't relapse after birth. I'm using my pregnancy as my recovery time, so that I can be the best mum. Because my son is so important. I don't want him to suffer - either with an ED, or through watching me destroy myself. Same goes for OH, who has felt nothing short of helpless since I confided in him ago.

I'm glad that you found my previous response useful hipphopapotamus, I really am. Because these methods have really helped me. Especially the bit about communication and hiding the scales/ mirrors. Anything to avoid triggering behavior. I'm finding that the longer I go without purging, the easier it's getting. The weight gain still makes me feel a little low, but I talk about it with my mum and my OH, who remind me that it's a part of the pregnancy and that it will go, provided I lose it in a healthy manner (which can take up to 6 months after birth).

I'm also very open about it, because I no longer wish to hide it. Hiding my ED is why I have suffered so much for so long. I don't want you to suffer either, you've already got the strain of childbirth and caring for a newborn imminent, you don't need the added stress and guilt.

Sorry, I don't mean to go on so much.

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