Your body goes through a lot of changes during pregnancy. Sometimes it's hard to recognize the person you once were. As your body grows to accommodate a baby, you are seeing all kinds of differences. Stretch marks pop up, things are getting bigger, you have acne all of a sudden. Your hormones are all out of whack. A new study has come out showing the correlation between our body image during pregnancy and your postpartum emotional well being.
It shouldn't come as a surprise that the there is a link between the two. Body image issues are largely in line with our mental and emotional health. So the changes our bodies go through will surely affect the way we look at ourselves.
Scientists at the University of York and Anglia Ruskin University have created the BUMPS method. They are using it as a way to assess women's views on their bodies during pregnancy. Using the assessments, they can find indicators of a pregnant person's mental state. Often, a higher level of body positivity leads to better mental health postpartum. BUMPS is done through self-reporting, using questions relating to feelings of satisfaction with the changes happening to your body, weight gain and the physical burden of being pregnant.
The study used over 600 women answering the questions on the BUMPS questionnaire. Using that data, the researchers were able to determine that women who feel positive about body changes will generally have a more positive pregnancy. This includes relationships with their partners, being able to read body signals, and have lower anxiety and depression scores.
"Our previous research has demonstrated that there is a relationship between how we perceive our bodies and our emotional state, but bodily experience is not systematically considered during pregnancy even though it is a time when dramatic bodily changes occur," says the University of York's Department of Psychology's Dr. Catherine Preston, an expert in body image.
Your body changes during pregnancy are far more rapid than any other time. If you're really in tune with your body, you will be hyper aware of how it's transforming. The scores on the questionnaire are also indicators of how well a mom is bonding with her baby. Lower scores could indicate that those women will need more emotional support postpartum.
"There is growing evidence that women's experience of their body during pregnancy can have a positive or negative impact on both maternal and infant wellbeing, so more should be done within our care systems to protect women against the more negative effects," Dr. Preston says.
This study is the next step in giving moms more emotional support during pregnancy. It shows that there are factors medical providers aren't considering. And those factors could be huge indicators to getting women the help they need. Hopefully, this practice continues to grow.