For new mothers who are also in recovery from an eating disorder, the experience of bringing a new life into the world can bring about many positive changes. Choosing to feed your baby through breastfeeding can also nurture a bond early on between mother and baby, and there are numerous benefits associated with breastfeeding as well.
Research has shown that breastfeeding may reduce the risk for certain diseases in the infant, including decrease allergic diseases, obesity, asthma, and type 2 diabetes . Breastfeeding may also be helpful in improving an infant’s cognitive development. The benefits of breastfeeding extending beyond health, as there are potential environmental and economic benefits for communities as a whole.
Supporting Nutritional Needs
For a mother who decides to breastfeed her baby, it is important to take the extra steps to care for yourself to support the physical demand on the body.
Being in recovery from an eating disorder may help establish a consistent meal plan and balanced way of eating, one that will not only continue to support long-term recovery but assist with meeting your nutritional needs for breastfeeding as well. Needs that are increased during breastfeeding include overall calories, protein, micronutrients, and hydration.
You might consider working with your registered dietitian to review your meal plan and ensure that you are receiving adequate nutrition and calories to support your needs while breastfeeding. Structure your meals and snacks throughout the day to regularly include food components from each of the main macronutrients, including carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.
Eating every 2-3 hours can also be helpful in getting what you need throughout the day. Keeping easy foods on hand can also help you better get in the nutrients you are needing throughout the day to sustain energy for breastfeeding.
If you are still in the early phases of recovery, or are under a weight restoration phase, be sure to work closely with your treatment team while you are breastfeeding your baby.
Choosing to breastfeed your baby is making a positive choice for you both as you nurture this new life, and it is important to constantly reevaluate your overall health, including emotional, mental, physical, and psychological well-being to determine if breastfeeding continues to be an appropriate fit for both you and your baby.
About the Author: Crystal is a Masters-level Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) with a specialty focus in eating disorders, maternal/child health and wellness, and intuitive eating. Combining clinical experience with a love of social media and writing, Crystal serves as the Director of Content and Social Media for Eating Disorder Hope/Addiction Hope, where her passion to help others find recovery and healing is integrated into each part of her work.
As a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, Crystal has dedicated her career to helping others establish a healthy relationship with food and body through her work with EDH/AH and nutrition private practice.
References: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, “What are the benefits of breastfeeding?”, https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/breastfeeding/conditioninfo/Pages/benefits.aspx Accessed 25 March 2017
The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.
We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.
Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on March 29, 2017
Published on EatingDisorderHope.com