Mummyrexia, a contraction of “mummy” and “anorexia”, is a growing phenomenon.
Also called pregorexia (for “pregnant” and “anorexia”) and considered a real disease, it is characterized by a woman’s obsession with thinness during pregnancy.

This obsession translates into ambivalence: the desire to have a child, while rejecting the physical changes that accompany pregnancy, including weight gain.

Those affected will then follow strict diets and increase physical activity.

This eating disorder has been on the rise in recent years. I see more and more patients who refuse to gain weight even though they are pregnant. Some mothers-to-be want to take advantage of this opportunity to lose a few pounds, confirms psychiatrist Gerard Apfeldorfer.

What are the causes of this?

Contrary to what one might think, the anorexia of the mother-to-be can also affect women who have not previously had any eating disorders.

An Australian study showed that 1.41% of non-agnostic pregnant women will want to control their weight during pregnancy, and 20% of them consider weight and diet control to be major concerns during pregnancy.
It is then that their obsession will turn into a real pathology.

When asked, many women argue that this control of feeding is for the good of the baby, in order to best meet the baby’s nutritional needs in the most healthy way.

However, according to Claire Squire, psychiatrist and psychoanalyst: “The impact of pregnancy on eating habits is not direct. It depends on the woman’s condition before she becomes pregnant (weight, damage to her image, feeling of efficiency, history of eating disorders or restrictive behaviors). Those most concerned about their bodies before pregnancy are likely to be the most disturbed.

Is it the people’s fault?

Like Victoria Beckham or Nicole Richie, many people continue to espouse slender shapes on the red carpets throughout their pregnancy. Although highly criticized, they also inspire many women by suggesting that it is quite conceivable to keep an extremely fine line throughout her pregnancy.

Paola Aburto, a psycho-clinician at a “soft” maternity clinic, evokes a slimming fashion that puts pressure on expectant mothers:

For some of these women who make their weight a permanent struggle, identification with the stars is all the more important because they compare themselves and want to have the same life as these people.

What are the risks for mom and baby?

Mummyrexia has a negative impact on both the expectant mother and her baby.
Throughout pregnancy, the fetus needs sufficient supplies of nutrients, vitamins and trace elements that the mother must pass on to it through her diet.

By reducing her intake, this mother-to-be reduces the intake of the fetus and takes the risk of disrupting the development of the child’s body.

For both her and him, the consequences can be extremely serious:

  • deficiencies and anaemia,
  • heart problems,
  • premature delivery,
  • low birth weight,
  • hypotrophy,
  • development delay,
  • immune system disease
  • 6 times the risk of perinatal death

Not to mention the psychological consequences for both the child and the mother.

As a reminder, a normal weight gain during pregnancy is between 9 and 16 kilos (20 to 26 lbs) for a healthy normal weight woman.

In case of difficulty, it is strongly recommended to have a medical follow-up, in addition to the usual doctors, by a nutritionist or dietician, as well as to be psychologically supported throughout her pregnancy.

Also, the feeleat application can be a good monitoring tool between you and your healthcare professionals. They will be able to monitor your food intake, alert you in case of difficulties and advise you to ensure the best conditions for you and your baby.

Have you experienced the phenomenon of mummyrexia and would like to share your experience with the community? Feel free to comment on this article or share your story.