3 Tips For The Pregnant Woman Navigating Recovery

Pregnant eating disorder recovery

I am pregnant. Rocking a 17-week bump today. If you did not know, the baby is now the size of a pomegranate; multiple pregnancy apps alert me of the baby’s size based on food. Yes, very ironic.

I know the human growing inside needs extra calories to exist and progress to each week’s new milestone, but how do you do that when you have a difficult past with food?

How do you eat for two, when merely eating for one is an uphill marathon?

With the history of self-hatred, criticism, and food challenges that I experienced, this isn’t easy. How do you flip the switch and just start eating? Oh yeah, then add some more because the baby needs it.

Welcome to this strange new (pregnant) chapter of my life

I’ve been in recovery for the last five years of my life. Going to nutritionists, therapists, and specialized providers frequently has greatly improved my mental health. These steps, along with my daily hard work and community support have truly gotten me into a better space with food, my body, and who I am as a woman.

Even so, after over a decade of struggling with anorexia nervosa, you’d think getting pregnant would be nearly impossible. But surprise – it can still happen!

The myths surrounding infertility with such a history prove to be incorrect (with me at least). My body is changing and growing bigger every day, whether I like it or not.

Eating has become more organic and much easier, but this pregnancy season is throwing me off a bit. I feel like everything that I’ve worked towards is slipping out of my control again.

How do you work through this when pregnant?

The disordered mindset didn’t just vanish one day merely because I got pregnant. It continues to show up like a giant cloud of smoke. poof!

In this season of necessary weight gain and having to love this huge belly, and people commenting on my figure, the thoughts tend to return with vengeance. The voice nags me during dinner, tells me to skip the extra roll with real butter, and even to skip the meal altogether at times.

How do you work through this? Being pregnant is supposed to be one of the most exciting times of your life, right?

There are so many outside voices and opinions going in all sorts of directions. Things like weight gain numbers vary significantly during pregnancy. And the spontaneous comments about how big or small you are is such tough territory to navigate!

I don’t admit to having this pregnancy thing fully figured out and don’t expect to be perfect in these nine months (or ever). However, these 3 tips have helped me significantly during this time.

3 tips for the pregnant woman navigating recovery

1. Grab your bucket of salt

No, not a grain, but a bucket. You will need to take everything you hear with caution.

Find a trusted friend, family member, or healthcare provider to take your questions to. Only consider opinions that fit your lifestyle, and personality, and are in line with your recovery.

People will spontaneously shove their advice and experiences down your throat – like cough syrup you don’t want to take. It can come off as rude or belittling, although they probably mean well.

I have gotten comments in the same hour about how I don’t look pregnant to some and others think I’m huge. I go from feeling terrible or that I am not gaining weight fast enough to suddenly being self-conscious about my stomach.

So grab that bucket! Ask your health-related concerns and weight questions to trusted providers. Those are the opinions that truly matter. If they have advice, try it on for size.

2. Stop googling (seriously)

In a similar fashion, try to limit your online searching for pregnancy-related questions or concerns.

Certain apps, articles and advice can prove to be very helpful, but I warn you to put boundaries on screen time. There are too many resources out there that will give you contradicting information.

Differences in what to eat, what to avoid eating, best exercises, not to exercise at all, etc. Again, talk to your care team about this. You already go to the doctor’s office enough, might as well make your appointment useful.

Remember: the internet is still a fairly new thing. Previous generations of pregnant mothers and babies have survived just fine without extensive research on what type of sweetener is best. Get off the internet, have the cookie and just enjoy the sugar.

3. Be kind to yourself

You are growing a human! That being said, extra food is a requirement.

No, you do not have to eat for two full-grown adults, but add the additional energy you need. Enjoy the time to nourish your body and feed your growing baby. Have the extra helping of pasta or dessert when you want to. Feed the weird cravings and try new foods.

Even though guilt might linger, try to focus on what your body needs in this particular season. It took a few months for me to understand this, but I truly feel a sense of relief knowing that I am taking care of this child already.

Sometimes women will not make changes for themselves but will jump through hurdles for others. If the motivation to eat and take care of your body comes from the baby alone, start there. Put your feet up, leave the dinner dishes in the sink and remember to take care of yourself right now. This is the time you can have your cake, and eat it too.

(Last Updated: June 3, 2022)

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