Reflections on Being Pregnant in ED Recovery

I hadn’t really given too much thought on how pregnancy would affect me and my body image insecurities, I’d just put all my anxiety into getting pregnant.

Those first few weeks of pregnancy when no one knows, you feel exhausted but can’t have any of your usual energy/caffeine fixes, hungry but nauseous, EVERYTHING just seemed out of control. My head was a mess and I felt very alone.

I surrendered to the need to constantly snack, eating crisps before 9am in bed if needed and listening to those cravings including ordering a sandwich on Uber Eats one day straight after breakfast! I just had to have smoked salmon one afternoon, after years of being a vegetarian on eco and ethical grounds.

It was as I started to show that I found the green card for everyone to comment on your body hard to handle. There was the comment from a colleague in the lift when I was 20 weeks pregnant and I thought really showing, “I thought you must be adopting as you don’t look pregnant”.

The previous week a friend had seen a photo of me, where my stomach wasn’t even visible as I was sitting at a table, who initially said I looked “AMAZING. Whether an extra pound or happiness, or both of them”, followed by “maybe you were too skinny, huh? Now is just perfect”. I was lost for words and just didn’t reply.

Why are we so obsessive with people’s body shapes?

I prepared myself early for growing out of clothes, partly because I was feeling so bloated anything figure hugging or with tight waist bands was packed away. Sticking with eco values I purchased a job lot of maternity clothes off Facebook marketplace, but actually found the massive high waist over the bump elastic quite uncomfortable until about week 22 when I really popped.

I was meant to be a bridesmaid in later pregnancy but step away from this, along with other reasons I didn’t want the stress of the dress fitting or not fitting and the focus of attention on me with photos.

Although I battled with anorexia for over a decade, but as I was never clinically diagnosed (I self-diagnosed, I was a dietitian after all) despite declaring this to my midwife at my first appointment, this was just brushed over and advised I could refer myself to talking therapies offered by the council. I didn’t actually get to a counsellor until my little one was 3 months old.

To my great relief, I did not get weighed apart from at booking appointment and at the first scan.

There really is a need for better recognition of the triggering nature of pregnancy body changes especially in those with eating disorder histories and support accessibility available. Societally we need take the focus off bodies, a much bigger challenge!

Contributed by Elaine,
First Steps ED Community Blog