Body weight dissatisfaction before, during and after pregnancy: a comparison of women with and without eating disorders

  • Elise CokerEmail author
  • Suzanne Abraham
Original Article



We examined prospectively changes in current BMI and body weight dissatisfaction in women with and without eating disorders (EDs) during and after pregnancy compared to prepregnancy.


We assessed pregnant women with (ED group, N = 18) and without an ED (Control group, N = 129) using current BMI and the discrepancy between current and desired BMI (body weight dissatisfaction). This is a measure representative of overall body dissatisfaction. Women were assessed retrospectively for prepregnancy, and prospectively at weeks 12–14 (first trimester), weeks 24–26 (second trimester) and weeks 34–36 (third trimester) during pregnancy and 3, 6 and 12 months after.


Compared with prepregnancy, current BMI for the ED group increased at trimester two and three and returned to prepregnancy levels postpartum, while current BMI for the Control group increased at trimester one, two, three, and remained above their prepregnancy BMI at 3, 6 and 12 months postpartum. Compared with prepregnancy levels, body weight dissatisfaction for the ED group improved at 6 and 12 months postpartum, while body weight dissatisfaction for the Control group increased at trimester two and three, and remained greater at 3 and 6 months postpartum before returning to prepregnancy levels at 12 months postpartum. Maximum dissatisfaction occurs in trimester three for both the ED (mean 2.98, SD 2.74) and Control groups (mean 2.93, SD 3.22).


Body dissatisfaction does not improve during pregnancy in women with or without EDs. Body weight dissatisfaction remained unchanged for women with EDs during pregnancy, before a decrease at 6 and 12 months postpartum. Body weight dissatisfaction increased for women without EDs, and remained elevated until 6 months postpartum. Despite this, women with and without EDs gained significant weight during pregnancy This suggests all women require information and support regarding body image during the pregnancy and in the 12 months postpartum.


Body image Body weight dissatisfaction Eating disorders Pregnancy Postpartum Weight 



Anorexia nervosa


Bulimia nervosa


Binge eating disorder


Body mass index


Body weight dissatisfaction


Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders


Eating disorder


Eating and exercise examination


Generalized estimating equation


Quality of life for eating disorders



The authors wish to thank Georgina Luscombe for her assistance with statistical analyses.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Women’s Health, Royal North Shore HospitalUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Northside ClinicSydneyAustralia
  3. 3.E25, Royal North Shore Hospital, The University of SydneySydneyAustralia

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