What are the Effects of Bulimia During Pregnancy?

Anna T.

The effects of bulimia during pregnancy can be incredibly dangerous for the unborn child and may cause a host of problems. Women who are bulimic while they are pregnant are more likely to have many complications, including miscarriage and premature labor. Bulimia during pregnancy can also cause women to deliver babies who are stillborn or who have a very low birth weight. A woman who wants to avoid the negative side effects of bulimia during her pregnancy should be upfront with her doctor about her problem so she can get the help she needs.

Bulimia during pregnancy can be incredibly harmful to the unborn baby.
Bulimia during pregnancy can be incredibly harmful to the unborn baby.

Pregnancy can be very hard on women who are bulimic because many of them already suffer from severe psychological issues regarding their weight. Gaining healthy weight during pregnancy is normal, and women who are bulimic may have a difficult time accepting the extra pounds. Bulimic women often binge eat and then either vomit up their food or take laxatives to rid their bodies of what they've eaten. A developing baby needs all the nutrients that a mother can provide from what she eats, and vomiting or laxative use after eating can prevent a fetus from getting the needed nutrition. Babies who are not getting adequate nutrition in the womb may not grow properly, and if they survive pregnancy, they may not be healthy at birth.

Pregnant women need to stay hydrated and eat a nutritious, well-balanced diet.
Pregnant women need to stay hydrated and eat a nutritious, well-balanced diet.

A woman who has bulimia during pregnancy should meet with her doctor to discuss her problem as soon as she learns of her pregnancy. Getting help early in pregnancy is recommended so that a woman can prevent any possible damage to the fetus. Bulimic women who are pregnant will likely be instructed to avoid unnecessary vomiting and may additionally be referred to a nutritionist to help them eat properly and gain a normal amount of weight during their pregnancies. Doctors also typically recommend regular counseling sessions for bulimic patients to help with the psychological issues that tend to cause bulimia.

In spite of the potential dangers, many women with bulimia during pregnancy are able to successfully manage their eating disorder and deliver healthy babies. Problems with bulimia may return after a baby is born, and for this reason a woman should continue her counseling sessions and keep seeing her nutritionist after delivery. Seeing a nutritionist after pregnancy may be a good idea for a woman who struggles with bulimia, because her nutritionist can help her safely get back to her pre-pregnancy weight. With proper management, a woman can eliminate the effects of bulimia on herself and her baby both during and after pregnancy.

Women should avoid unnecessary vomiting during pregnancy.
Women should avoid unnecessary vomiting during pregnancy.

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Discussion Comments


@talentryto- Since it is critical to your relative's health and the health of her unborn baby that she get treatment for her bulimia, she should not give up just because she hasn't found a counselor she likes yet. Though it may take time and several consultations, she will eventually find a counselor she can connect with.

First of all, I think your relative she talk to her doctor about her concerns. Just because she didn't develop a good relationship with the first counselor he referred her to doesn't mean he won't be able to help her find another that will be a good match.

If this doesn't work, then your relative should call her local hospital. There she should be able to get information about counselors in her area.

Another option for finding a good counselor for her bulimia is for your relative to consult eating disorder organizations in her area. Since the staff are trained in dealing with these severe problems, one of the services that these organizations offer is assistance for patients seeking professional eating disorder help.


I have a relative who is struggling with bulimia, and she just found out that she is pregnant. She lives in a small town, and is having a difficult time finding a counselor that she can relate to. What other options might she have other than seeing the counselor her doctor referred her to?

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