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Beyond the Bump: Women's Experiences of Body Image during Pregnancy and in the Postpartum

Body image is an important aspect of identity, with body image dissatisfaction related to many negative experiences such as depression and low self-esteem. Pregnancy is a time of rapid and substantial change for women’s bodies, yet it is not well understood how body image is experienced either during pregnancy or in the postpartum. Given that body image dissatisfaction is more prevalent among women than men, it is important to consider this important life transition and the way body image may be experienced. Sixteen semi-structured interviews were conducted among women either in late pregnancy or in the first year postpartum to explore their experiences of body image during and after pregnancy. Thematic analysis resulted in six major themes, which encapsulate the variety of experiences among women. There is variation among women’s experiences that is influenced by a range of other factors. Most women felt overall positively about their bodies during pregnancy, but there were some negative aspects and different experiences. In the postpartum, most women were dissatisfied with their bodies, although the importance of this differed. Factors that influenced the way women felt included the transition to motherhood, the media, and past/present social interactions. This exploratory study provides insight into the way 16 women experienced body image through pregnancy and the postpartum to contribute to this relatively limited research area. Many areas for future study have been identified.
Type of thesis
Large, Z. (2016). Beyond the Bump: Women’s Experiences of Body Image during Pregnancy and in the Postpartum (Thesis, Master of Social Sciences (MSocSc)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/10613
University of Waikato
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