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  • 1 Isis Education Centre, Warneford Hospital, Oxford University, Oxford, UK
  • 2 Eating Disorders Service, Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust, Southampton, UK
  • 3 Clinical Psychologist, Chronic Pain Management Service, Ipswich Hospital, Post Bag C320, Heath Road, Ipswich, Suffolk, IP14 3AH, UK
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Abstract

Background and aims: To explore the experience of pregnancy for women who have a history of anorexia nervosa (AN), in relation to the impact of AN on pregnancy, and pregnancy on AN. Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with six women with a history of AN. Data were analysed using Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis. Results: Four super-ordinate themes emerged: ‘Effortful resistance of AN’; ‘The unvalued self, valued other dialectic’; ‘In new territory’; and ‘Feeling distanced’. Conclusions: Various factors motivated the women to try and change their AN behaviours. This was achieved with varying degrees of success. Attempts to manage AN cognitions and emotions were less successful, and this aspect of their illness persisted. Whilst the baby was viewed as worthy of nurturance, the self was not. Pregnancy represented an unfamiliar experience, and was a time of relative isolation and lack of psychological support. Findings are discussed in the context of theory, research and practice.

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