Amy A. Harris, CNM, MS, is in clinical practice at Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, Portland, ME.
Practical Advice for Caring for Women With Eating Disorders During the Perinatal Period
Article first published online: 21 JAN 2011
2010 American College of Nurse Midwives
Journal of Midwifery & Womens Health
Volume 55, Issue 6, pages 579–586, November-December 2010
How to Cite
Harris, A. A. (2010), Practical Advice for Caring for Women With Eating Disorders During the Perinatal Period. Journal of Midwifery & Womens Health, 55: 579–586. doi: 10.1016/j.jmwh.2010.07.008
- Issue published online: 21 JAN 2011
- Article first published online: 21 JAN 2011
- binge eating disorder;
- eating disorders;
- nutritional counseling;
- prenatal care
Pregnancy is a critical time for women struggling with disordered eating and weight concerns. For the majority of women with eating disorders, symptoms improve during pregnancy. Other women, particularly those with either subclinical or binge eating disorders, are at risk for an escalation of pathologic behaviors, putting both mother and fetus at risk for negative birth outcomes. Routinely screening for eating disorders will help identify those women who will most benefit from specialized care. Attention must be paid to possible harmful comorbid behaviors found in women with eating disorders, such as smoking, alcohol use, abusing laxatives or herbal supplements, and self-injurious behavior. This article reviews the mixed research findings of the impact of eating disorders upon pregnancy and identifies key times in prenatal care where nutritional counseling and specific interventions will increase the likelihood of positive pregnancy outcomes. The postpartum period is another critical time for provider intervention that may lower women's risks for eating disorder relapse, postpartum depression, and breastfeeding difficulties.