Binge Eating and Pregnancy

If you're a woman with binge eating disorder and you're pregnant, you might need extra support to help you and your baby stay healthy.

A good first step toward a successful pregnancy is to learn how bingeing affects your body and your unborn child.

Trying to get pregnant? You'll want to read this, too.

Binge Eating vs. Pregnancy Cravings

Many women eat more food than usual when they’re pregnant. This is normal. But regularly eating a lot of food when you’re not hungry, and sometimes to the point of feeling sick, is not.

You’re dealing with more than simple pregnancy cravings if you:

  • Feel out of control when you eat
  • Often eat in secret because of feelings of shame or guilt

Getting Pregnant

Binge eating can make your periods come less often or even stop. When this happens, your body doesn't release an egg (ovulate) when it should each month. This can make it hard to get pregnant.

During Pregnancy and Delivery

Your urge to binge eat might go away during pregnancy. It does for a few women. But studies say the patterns of overeating often continue. Many women get the disorder for the first time during pregnancy.

Many people who binge eat are overweight or obese. Carrying extra fat around your middle might make it hard for your doctor to track your baby’s growth and development with ultrasound.

If you're overweight, you're also more likely to have certain problems during pregnancy, including:

Studies also show that binge eating raises your risk of:

A premature birth can put your baby at risk for:

Sometimes, babies born to moms with binge eating disorder weigh more than other babies born at the same term in pregnancy.

It can happen if you have gestational diabetes -- but your binge foods can play a role, too. Your baby gets nutrients from what you eat or drink. Studies show that women who binge tend to eat higher amounts of saturated fats, among other things. That's unhealthy for both the mom and the baby.

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Get Support

The best thing you can do is seek help from professionals who can guide you through your pregnancy safely. It’s important to be honest with your health care providers about your eating habits before and during your pregnancy.

Along with normal checkups during your pregnancy, your doctor may suggest you:

  • Get regular, pregnancy-appropriate exercise.
  • Set up extra appointments to keep track of your baby’s growth.
  • Consider counseling and therapy (an important part of binge eating treatment).
  • Meet with a nutritionist.
  • Go to a support group for people with eating disorders.

Your doctor might also want to check you for signs of depression after the baby is born (postpartum depression). Depression is common in people who binge eat, and it’s also common in new moms.

Talk to your doctor about your eating habits, mood, and pregnancy symptoms. That can help you and your baby can get the proper care you both need for a healthy start.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Joseph Goldberg, MD on January 15, 2017

Sources

SOURCES:

UpToDate: “Eating disorders in pregnant women.”

National Eating Disorders Association: “Binge Eating Disorder,” “Pregnancy and Eating Disorders.”

News release, University of North Carolina School of Medicine.

M. Algars. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 2014.

Linna, M. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 2013.

Vandenberg, K. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, & Neonatal Nursing, 2012.

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: “Good Health Before Pregnancy: Preconception Care.”

Ulman, T. Sleep, 2012.

Siega-Riz, AM. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2009.

Linna, M. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 2014.

American Academy of Pediatrics: “Health Issues of Premature Babies.”

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