A new survey has revealed that one in every 50 pregnant women develop an eating disorder due to the stress of bearing a child.
According to the study, there are about 600,000 babies born in the UK every year, meaning that 12,000 mothers develop anorexia or bulimia when pregnant.
The survey conducted by the baby charity Tommy's discovered that 9 in every 10 expectant mums are stressed. Doctors warn that if stress continues, it can lead to miscarriage.
The survey that had about 1,104 respondents also found that 20pct worry that they might not love their baby. Other revelations include that one-third of them are anxious about developing post-natal depression and more than 25 pct feel that changes in body hormones contributed to the stress.
About 17 pct of pregnant women are constantly worried due to work pressure. And 41 pct are worried about money. Almost one-third experience stress due to concerns about eating the right type of food.
"Current research at Tommy's Manchester Unit indicates that significant levels of stress can limit the growth of babies within the womb.The Tommy's study also suggests that stress increases the risk of pre-term labour, with this effect having most impact when stress is experienced around the time of conception and in early pregnancy, " The Telegraph quoted Philip Baker, a professor of maternal and foetal health from Manchester, as saying.
Andrew Shennan, the professor of obstetrics for Tommy's, said that the survey results are shocking. "Suppressing concerns during pregnancy can contribute to the development of pre-natal depression, which can be damaging to both mother and baby. In the vast majority of cases, whatever thoughts or concerns they may be having, nearly every other pregnant woman will have been through the same thing, and so they shouldn't worry that they will be demonised for having perfectly normal feelings," Shennan said.
"Although we hear and read more nowadays of women developing an eating disorder in pregnancy, we have no statistics to prove there is an increase. One in 50 women develops an eating disorder during their life so this figure does not differ," Susan Ringwood, the chief executive of the eating disorder charity Beat, said.
"Having said that, we are aware that there is increased pressure on women to return to their pre-pregnancy weight, which could lead to increased risk," she added.