Negotiating motherhood for women in recovery from eating disorders
Austin, Heather Lee-Ann
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Eating disorders (ED) are a major problem facing women and their families. Many women who have struggled with an ED eventually become mothers, and many worry they will transmit their ED to their children (Barnett, Buckroyd, & Windle, 2005; Micali, De Stavola, Ploubidis, Simnoff, &Treasure, 2014; Sherkow, Kamens, Megyes, Loewenthal, 2009). Some research highlights a mother’s crucial role in ED symptomology transmission, especially to daughters (Sherkow, Kamens, Megyes, Loewenthal, 2009. However, research is lacking on mothers who take a path of recovery for their ED and the impact recovery has on their interactions with their children. This study developed a process of recovery from ED by interviewing 20 women with at least one child between the ages of 5-18. Through these interviews a Mother’s Recovery Process model emerged, which were influenced by motivation to be healthy mothers, prevent transmission to their children and to gain their own personal health. This Mother’s Recovery Process had 6 phases (Recognition of ED, Initiation of Recovery, Turning Point, Identity Shift, Active Recovery and Stability in Recovery) and a unique parallel relationship with mothers Passing Healthy Patterns (modeling healthy behaviors, preventing unhealthy behaviors, encouraging protective factors and communication) to their children throughout this process. This model will aid mothers and professionals in understanding their role when navigating both recovery and motherhood.