health

She's nine months pregnant and making herself sick 10 times a day

Post-pregnancy dieting was a dangerous trigger for this mother, who now finds herself pregnant again and battling an eating disorder

When the average woman falls pregnant, her first thought isn’t fear that her weight will creep up. To be honest, it’s probably her second thought. Weight issues are a sad source of anxiety for countless women and expectant mums aren’t spared. However this pregnant mum has taken her fear about weight gain to a dangerous place, one that has doctors fearing for her safety and for the safety of her unborn baby. Here is her story.

Claire Fillingham is 27, pregnant, anorexic and bulimic all at the same time. She makes herself vomit up to 10 times a day and has lost six kilos since her 12 week scan.

Now Claire is days away from giving birth and worries she won’t have the strength to endure labour.

Why is she doing this to herself?

Claire lives on a diet of one slice of toast, a bowl of soup and endless glasses of diet cola but majority of this is thrown up. Her body is struggling to keep her upright on such a small amount of food and she regularly feels lightheaded. If she feels faint she eats a small packet of lollies.

Sometimes she keeps them down.

Doctors have been gravely concerned about her and her baby and have urged her to drink nutrition drinks to help her body cope but the expectant mum has confessed she often vomits these up too. However despite her dangerous eating habits she’s been told that the baby boy she’s expecting is healthy, for now.

Claire is married to Lee, a 31-year-old security engineer. She managed to overcome her eating disorder during their marriage and her first pregnancy with now two-year-old daughter India. She thought she’d beaten it. She put on weight ahead of their wedding and during her first pregnancy but didn’t care. She was happy and in love. Now that she’s pregnant with her second child, her eating disorder has caught up with her again.

It was while trying to lose the weight from her first pregnancy that the old habits resurfaced. She first developed an eating disorder when she was a 13-year-old ice skater. She tried to lose some weight after someone commented that she’d put on weight during a family holiday. By the age of 14 she was skipping meals and developed anorexia. She ended up becoming a fitness instructor and fought eating disorders until meeting Lee.

ADVERTISEMENT

She suffered a miscarriage before having India, then suffered a second miscarriage after her daughter was born, all the time fighting against her eating disorders. “I was underweight but it was only four months after giving birth so it could have just been too early,” she says.

She says at India’s first birthday party she was too weak to lift her daughter. “It’s times like that that I realise I’ve got a problem,” she says. “But then there’s this other, stronger voice that tells me not to listen to what people are telling me when they say I’m too thin.

“I feel the need to stay in control and if I listen to other people that voice is telling me I will be out of control.”

How does Lee handle his wife’s dangerous behaviour:

Claire’s problems with food have been a constant in our relationship. Her mind-set is that she is simply fat and her self-esteem is zero. It’s upsetting for me to see her like this and to think the baby is taking everything from her. People with no knowledge of this ­condition probably just think she is being selfish but that’s not the case. She is ill.

Claire has decided to speak up on behalf of the many pregnant women who suffer from eating disorders. She feels they are misunderstood, that it’s not about vanity or selfishness. It’s a disease.

“I feel guilty about the baby but it’s not a lifestyle choice,” she told the Sunday Mirror. “It’s not something I consciously choose to do. I feel bad because I know there are women out there who can’t have families and will think I’m unbelievably selfish.”Some family members thin she’s deliberately putting her child in danger. “A close family member said they couldn’t believe I was putting my child in danger. I’m not sitting thinking I’ve got to hurt this baby, I’ve got to make him suffer. Not at all, far from it.”Eating disorders during pregnancy are on the increase. Pregorexia, anorexia during pregnancy, and maternal bulimia affect an average of 1 in 14 pregnant women.

If you suffer from eating disorders or poor body image contact The Butterfly Foundation on 1800 33 4673 or visit their website.

Images courtesy of YouTube/Sunday Mirror

Did pregnancy help or hinder your own body issues?