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The Growing Phenomenon of Pregorexia

The majority of us are well aware of the pressure to be perfectly slim and sculpted. Now the stress of looking svelte has reached pregnant women, some of whom have begun dieting and exercising excessively to be thin. To describe this latest phenomenon, the press has chosen “pregorexia,” — following in the footsteps of other trendy terms like drunkorexia and orthorexia — and the media and blogosphere have been abuzz about it all week. New Zealand and England in particular have seen an increase in expectant moms restricting their eating and upping their workouts to try to stay trim.

Not surprisingly, like the pressure for the perfect six-pack and toned thighs, the pressure to be a fit, trendy mom trickles down from the media and Hollywood. It’s tough not to pay attention to the images of slim and trim celebrities — with petite frames and tiny baby bumps just days before they’re due — or focus on the magazine covers revealing post-pregnancy weight-loss secrets.

A prime example of these secret solutions comes to us from The New York Daily News . In a celeb’s arsenal, the article explains, you’ll find breastfeeding, the mommy makeover (made up of a tummy tuck, breast lift and liposuction and increasingly requested by moms) and lots of working out. Interestingly, even a C-section can promote weight-loss. According to one doctor:

“Your body is trying to repair itself and that stimulates your metabolism. Plus you’re usually on a liquid diet for the first few days afterward. You can lose about 10 pounds. So if you keep that off, watch your diet and get back to exercising, you can look really good.”

This sends a dangerous, unhealthy message to expectant moms that a) a pregnant woman’s body isn’t beautiful, unless it’s thin, of course; b) the most important thing to focus on after giving birth is weight-loss at all costs; and c) you must be perfect.

Expectant moms have to maintain a perfect balance between not gaining too much weight — which comes with its own health risks — and gaining enough, writes the body image blog, 5 Resolutions to Transform the Fashion and Beauty Industries.

And not putting on enough pounds can also have dire consequences. Fox News cites a recent study that found, “Gaining too little weight during pregnancy is associated with poor fetal growth, lower birth weight and the chance of a baby’s being born prematurely.”

So, what can the average woman do?

For starters, keep in mind that celebrity moms have an army of professionals clamoring to help them. Mom and author Suzanne Schlosberg told MSNBC:

“They’ve [celebs] got somebody to take care of baby while they do their workouts with their $250-an-hour trainer. They’ve got a fancy personal chef creating their perfect 200-calorie meals. It’s not an even playing field. They have all these advantages that real people don’t have.”

Also, check out inspiring Web sites like, which includes photos of real moms, who aren’t airbrushed, haven’t had plastic surgery and are proud of their bodies.

Finally, don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor or seek a therapist. Be honest with yourself about what you’re feeling and the struggles you’re going through. Reach out to friends and family — you’ll find that many moms relate to your experiences.

The Growing Phenomenon of Pregorexia

Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.

Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S. is an Associate Editor and regular contributor at Psych Central. Her Master's degree is in clinical psychology from Texas A&M University. In addition to writing about mental disorders, she blogs regularly about body and self-image issues on her Psych Central blog, Weightless.

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APA Reference
Tartakovsky, M. (2018). The Growing Phenomenon of Pregorexia. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 27, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 14 Aug 2008)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
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