Yes, another woman is sharing her pregnancy journey on Instagram. But what makes this young lady’s social media page so profound is that she is also recovering from anorexia nervosa and learning how to come to terms with her changing body.
Gabrielle, who posts as changethroughlove, recently described her inner battle of conflicting thoughts — a battle that she’s winning.
She wrote; “So I’m gaining a lot of weight lately…. my mind is beating me up about it, telling me that I need to start restricting again because the weight doesn’t look good on me. My mind is a bitch sometimes…. I’m challenging it though, I’m continuing to eat when I’m hungry despite how much I want to let my hunger satisfy me. I’m posting these pictures despite how horrible I feel when I look at them. I am beautiful and I am enough, even with this extra weight.”
While anorexia nervosa is a serious medical and mental health condition that impacts both males and females, 9 percent of American women suffer from this disease in their lifetime. And since anorexia is characterized by an obsessive fear of weight gain, a refusal to maintain a healthy body weight, and typically, a distorted body image, pregnancy is likely to be an overwhelming experience for any woman in recovery.
“Getting used to the fact that your body is changing — whether you like it or not, since there’s not a lot of control over it — that part is really hard, particularly for someone who has been anorexic,” Allison K. Chase, executive director of the Eating Recovery Center in Austin, tells Yahoo Beauty.
Along with accepting her altered appearance, a woman in recovery is likely facing emotional challenges. “It is important to recognize that all of a sudden it’s not just about taking care of yourself, but taking care of yourself and your unborn baby, which brings in a whole other realm of responsibility in doing that,” explains Chase.
She adds that the “psychological piece of eating disorders is quite complex.”
“There is a part of it that’s related to a lot of emotional concerns and a lot of emotional issues tied to themselves, their sense of self, and their ability to not have their eating disorder be their identity,” continues Chase. “So when you’re moving into the role of being a mother and taking care of others, that’s so different.”
She advises any woman who has been previously diagnosed with an eating disorder — which includes more than 20 million people in the U.S. — and who is pregnant to speak with a counselor. “Even if you’re not experiencing anything in the moment, I think it can never hurt to check in with a professional just to get a sense of how you’re feeling — not only about how your body is changing, but how your life is changing,” she says. “The one thing we’re clear about is that it never hurts to be more prepared, so it’s essential to make sure you have any necessary skills you may need should you get stirred up again in some way.”
Chase also suggests meeting with a dietitian “who is well-versed in eating disorders, because it takes a different level of experience to better understand how to help somebody navigate their changing body when they have a history of having an eating disorder.”
Also, a mom-to-be may want to consider asking her gynecologist to refrain from mentioning her weight gain during each appointment. “If a woman feels that hearing her weight would be triggering or very difficult, she has every right to say to her doctor, ‘You keep track of it,’” says Chase. “Like we do in eating disorder treatment — we let our patients know about their condition by using phrases like, ‘You’re on target, ‘You’re doing what you need to be doing,’ and ‘This is looking good.’”
However, if you decide to ask for this type of approach, make sure everyone in your doctor’s office is aware of your request. “The chart needs to be flagged so that [this behavior] is consistent, especially in a busy practice where you may see a variety of nurses.”
Chase’s final piece of advice: Practice mindfulness. “Attempt to be as self-aware as possible,” she concludes. “That’s key to making sure that someone takes the necessary precautions and gets the help they need.”
Read more from Yahoo Style + Beauty:
- Body Positive Trans Vlogger Shares Empowering Story of Self-Acceptance
- This Cult-Classic Cleanser Is Sold Every 10 Seconds Worldwide
- Tia Mowry on How Giving Up Diet Pills and Eating Healthy Helped Her Conceive