Skip Navigation LinksHome > March/April 2011 - Volume 36 - Issue 2 > Eating Disorders & Breastfeeding
MCN, American Journal of Maternal Child Nursing:
doi: 10.1097/NMC.0b013e318205775c

Eating Disorders & Breastfeeding

Carwell, Micaela L. BSN, RN; Spatz, Diane L. PhD, RN-BC, FAAN

Continued Education
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Disordered eating is a concern for clinicians providing care to adolescent female patients, yet the concern seems to drift from the forefront as the patient matures toward motherhood. As women become pregnant, they may adopt a negative body image that persists throughout the postnatal period with pregnancy-related weight gain. For women with a history of an eating disorder (ED), these physical changes may reactivate past coping strategies such as food restriction, binge eating, or induced vomiting to maintain prepregnancy weight. There is evidence that long-term breastfeeding fosters a positive maternal–child bond, aids in postpartum weight loss, and provides the mother with an opportunity to reestablish healthy eating habits for her infant. Because clinicians providing care for pregnant and postpartum women develop trusting relationships through frequent and prolonged contact with their patients, nurses can provide screening for ED symptoms and educate their patients about the positive effects of breastfeeding as it applies to her recovery from pregnancy and ED. This article discusses how breastfeeding can positively influence complications present in pregnant mothers with EDs and provides nurses with tools to cultivate the mother's positive self-image.

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.


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