Identify Eating Disorders in Pregnant Women

I'm not a disordered eater. All I do is...

Nearly half of women polled use disordered eating to control their weight while pregnant.

Eat only certain foods

49 percent of the disordered eaters do this: Pregnant women need to avoid some foods for safety reasons, but experts warn against doing so to control your weight.

Restrict calories

21 percent: Although it's important not to gain an unhealthy amount of weight, you shouldn't ever try to lose during pregnancy, the March of Dimes says.

Exercise too much

4 percent: Pregnant women should get 30 minutes of aerobic exercise most days. But this minority takes it to extremes, risking metabolic effects or injuries that could harm the baby.

Use diet pills or laxatives

3 percent: No one should do this, period. To be safe, pregnant women should get the nod from a doc before taking any meds—over-the-counter or prescription.


2 percent: Bulimia during pregnancy raises the mom's risk for gestational diabetes, heart problems, a cesarean section and postpartum depression.

Fast or cleanse

1 percent; Fasting is never OK for a growing baby or her mother, says Anna Maria Siega-Riz, Ph.D.

More: Wipe Out Pregnancy Weight

A baby bump takes a toll on my body image.

Large percentages of women say that "pregnancy made me more insecure."

68 percent of thin women: Only 5 percent of thin women say pregnancy raised their body confidence; 28 percent say it stayed the same.

61 percent of normal-weight women: Although 11 percent of normal-weight women got a body-image benefit from pregnancy, and 28 percent felt no change, most still say they lost confidence.

46 percent of women with a history of eating disorders: Women with current or past eating disorders felt marked pressure to gain less weight than other pregnant women.

45 percent of slightly overweight women: Slightly overweight women were most likely (at 20 percent) to say pregnancy gave them more body love; 35 percent felt no difference.

30 percent of obese women: Big women felt confidence in their baby body. But, perhaps with heightened health risks on their mind, they also worried about weight gain and felt pressure to control it.

More: 9 Months On; 9 Months Off

So, how much should I gain?

It depends on what you weigh now. The Institute of Medicine outlines what's ideal.

28–40 lb for thin women

In our poll, 35 percent of thin women gained less than this, and 38 percent gained more.

25–35 lb for normal-weight women

Got twins on board? If you start out at a healthy weight, the IOM says you can up that to 37 to 54 pounds healthfully.

15–25 lb for overweight women

Only 39 percent of slightly overweight women surveyed were able to keep their gain under the limit.

11–20 lb for obese women

More than half of obese women polled exceeded the 20-pound limit. Yet, a mere 13 percent of obese women had docs who told them they were gaining too much.

More: Eating Well During Pregnancy

More from SELF:

Your Guide to a Happy, Healthy Pregnancy

Running While Pregnant: One Woman's Story

The Plus-One Workout: Stay Fit During & After Your Pregnancy

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About the Author

Jennifer Wolff Perrine

SELF gives you great advice on being healthy, happy, slimmer, fitter and less stressed.
SELF gives you great advice on being healthy, happy, slimmer, fitter and less stressed.

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