6 Serious Complications of Bulimia Nervosa During Pregnancy


Pregnancy involves lots of changes in the body of a woman. It not only causes physical changes, it also causes mental stress and mood swings. It is mainly associated to the hormonal changes during pregnancy. A mother has to go through many obstacles in pregnancy. Not everyone understands the gravity of the changes. The physical pain, changes in appearance, changes in daily habits may cause mental stress to the woman. If she is suffering from any other disorder then it adds up to her stress. In pregnancy it is very important for the mother to be stress free and be informed about various conditions which may appear very casual but may cause serious complications. One of such disorders is bulimia nervosa.

What is bulimia nervosa?

Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder. It is characterized by ‘binge eating’. It means irregular eating or eating large amount of food and then purging it out. Sometimes, the patient may not even eat lot of food, but still may purge out as soon as they eat. It is found that many of the bulimic people are underweight or normal weight. This happens because of the unrealistic portrayal of the beauty. Every person should feel comfortable in their own body. But many people today measure the beauty in weight. Obesity should be tackled under proper guidance, nutrition and diet. Sometimes obesity is caused due to hormonal imbalance or low metabolism rate, thus obesity even though a risk factor for diseases should be tackled with proper guidance. And body shaming person is the worst thing you can do to a person who is already dealing with some sort of stress. Bulimia nervosa is seen mainly in teenage children as well as in pregnant females.

Bulimia Nervosa During Pregnancy: Symptoms,Complications and Treatment

bulimia nervosa during pregnancy


Teeth– teeth may erode due to the force of the vomit. Loss of enamel of teeth is seen.

Gastric problems– due to frequent vomiting, the sphincter and gastric reflux get disturbed and hence may cause various gastric problems like regurgitation, ulcers, acidity or even internal wounds.

Oesophagitis– Oesophagitis means inflammation of the oesophagus. This happens as the acidic content of the stomach is frequently regurgitated through oesophagus. The lining of the stomach protects the stomach, but the lining of oesophagus is not that strong enough, it may erode early.


Russell’s sign– the accumulation of cellulous and the cuts on the knuckles is known as Russell’s sign. It may be present in a bulimic patient. But it is not necessarily always present as the patient may become capable of vomiting without any assistance or they may even use any other object for puking.

Mental issues– many a times bulimia nervosa is accompanied by other mental disorder like depression or anxiety.

Complications during pregnancy

A female may already be having an eating disorder, or she may acquire it during pregnancy. During pregnancy the risk increases as the woman has to adapt to the changes in the body. It is necessary to take care of mental health as much as physical health during pregnancy. There is no harm in knowing more about the problem rather than ignoring it, till it harms you severly. Some of the late complications and hazards during pregnancy are-

Nutritional deficiencies

Constantly puking after eating restricts the body from all the required nutrients. During pregnancy the need of body for all the nutrients increases. Hence the chances of nutritional deficiency increase. Nutritional deficiency may cause serious problem in the pregnancy to the baby as well as the mother. The most common deficiency faced during pregnancy is iron deficiency, causing anaemia. It may cause heavy bleeding, problem in coagulation, decreased immunity, risk of abortion as well as risk to the life of mother. Hence it is very necessary to increase your nutritional food intake during pregnancy, if you do not want unwanted weight then consult a nutritionist. They will provide your proper necessary diet plan. The changes in the body during pregnancy are the memories of your little one in your body. Every woman should be proud of the responsibility of another being in her womb.


Frequent vomiting may cause decrease in water and may cause electrolyte imbalance. Dehydration is very dangerous during pregnancy. The amniotic fluid, which protects the baby and contains its waste, is disturbed. A woman may suffer from hypokalemia i.e. decrease in concentration of potassium ions. This has direct effect on heart function. Increasing the risk of heart complications as well as hypertension during pregnancy. This also increases the risk of gestational diabetes mellitus. Immediate medical attention is required in such cases. As there is direct threat to the life of mother.

Post partum depression

A mother may suffer from post partum depression. This may be due to hormonal imbalance which is aided by the eating disorders, the expectations of the society from a mother; the responsibility of a new living being, as well as the pressure to return to normal life may cause a synergistic effect on the stress. Hence trying to understand a new mother is very important. It is the responsibility of the near and dear ones to support her and understand her. These problems are common after pregnancy and there is no need for any embarrassment or guilt.


Internal bleeding

Frequent vomiting with force may cause wounds in the internal surface of the intestine and the oesophagus. Vomiting means more exposure to the intestinal and the oesophageal mucosa to the acid. Hence there may be tears in the digestive tract. This haemorrhage may cause various complications, in it goes unnoticed then may cause severe anaemia.

Poor development of foetus

Foetus completely depends on the mother for all its nutrients. Those nutrients are required for the proper growth and development of the foetus. Thus it not only causes problem to mother’s health but it may also cause a permanent damage to the baby’s health.

Problem in nursing the baby

The baby is dependent on the mother not only for 9 months, but for further 6 months, as it has to be exclusively breast fed. Breast feeding is very essential for the lifetime’s health of the baby. Breast milk protects the baby from all the infection for life time. Low nutrition causes problem in nursing the baby.

Risks to the baby

Low birth weight baby– due to various nutritional deficiencies the risk of low birth weight baby increases.

Pre mature baby due various deficiencies in mother, she is unable to carry baby for a long period, and thus the risk of pre mature delivery increases.

Under developed baby– baby may lack development due to under supply of nutrients.


Risk of altered mental status– brain development is the most important part of the growth. Any lag in physical development can be treated or managed medically, but mental development can be rarely treated. And all the nutrients are required for the development of baby. Hence any deficiency in mother may severely affect the baby.

Still born baby– the chances of still born baby increases due to many problems. Most common being the under development of the lungs in the baby. Other causes may be aspaxia to baby due to prolonged labour, lacked nutrition, weak immunity, aspaxia in womb etc.

Low immunity in baby– the foundation of immunity in baby is given by mother, mother gives the antibodies to the baby through placenta as well as her breast milk. Deficiency of protein or low amount of breast milk may make the baby susceptible for various infections.


The only treatment for bulimia during pregnancy is proper counselling and support from the relatives, by making the patient as comfortable as possible. Normally the patient can be given anti depressants, but during pregnancy anti depressants are very risky. Hence it is very necessary that a female with eating disorder should undergo counselling first and then plan a baby. While after pregnancy prevention is the key.

During pregnancy it is very necessary that you are open about all your problems with your trusted person and your doctor. There is no reason to be embarrassed about any problem you feel. After all it is the question of the health of your as well as your baby. And last but not the least, let us all break the cycle of body hatred and love our own body. Instead of measuring the beauty in external appearance let us take a look inside. Start a movement towards a healthy body not a slim body.

Hope this article was of help to you! Please share your comments/queries/tips with us and help us create a world full of Happy, Healthy and Empowered Women!!