Interventions to Empower Adults with Eating Disorders and Their Partners around the Transition to Parenthood.Fam Process. 2019 Dec 04 [Online ahead of print]FP
The transition to parenthood is perceived as a stressful life event, when parents experience an immense change of their psychological focus and a reorientation of roles and responsibilities in the family system. This process may be even more challenging in the presence of a parental eating disorder history. This paper reviews the impact of parental eating disorders on the parents, the couple relationship, and their child during the perinatal period. A parental eating disorder is associated with more negative expectations of parental efficacy as well as specific difficulties in couple communication over the child's feeding, shape, and weight. Providers who better understand the effects of an eating disorder on parental functioning can more effectively intervene early on. We also present couple- or parent-based, empirically supported interventions for adults with eating disorders and their partners in the prenatal and postnatal periods: Uniting Couples in the treatment of Anorexia Nervosa (UCAN) and Uniting couples In the Treatment of Eating disorders (UNITE) both enhance recovery from the eating disorder through a couple-based intervention; the Maudsley Model of Treatment for Adults with Anorexia Nervosa (MANTRA) incorporates the support of partners, when appropriate; Parent-Based Prevention (PBP) focuses on improving parental functioning and reducing risk of negative parental and child outcomes. Finally, we discuss the clinical implications of addressing parental eating disorders and encourage more research on these families.