Body image during and after pregnancy studied

University of Waikato Masters student Zoe Large is conducting research that looks at women’s experiences of body image during and after pregnancy.

“Some research has been conducted on the way women feel about their bodies during and after pregnancy, and findings have been variable. Some women are positive about the changes to their body, some negative and others experience mixed emotions over the course of pregnancy and the postpartum,” says Ms Large.

“While many women have reported being happy with the changes to their bodies, there is the potential for significant distress for women who are dissatisfied with their body image and who may experience problems with depression, anxiety, low self-esteem and unhealthy eating,” she adds.

For Ms Large, this highlights the importance of conducting in-depth research in this area and to explore the way women experience their body image during pregnancy and in the postpartum period.

“There is a particular need to conduct this research in New Zealand, as little research has been conducted in a New Zealand context before,” she says.

Ms Large is studying towards her Master of Social Sciences, majoring in Psychology, in the Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences under the supervision of doctors Carrie Barber and Cate Curtis. She is seeking research participants who are at least 18 years old and either in the last trimester of pregnancy (or will be soon), or who are in the first year of their baby’s life.

Participants need to be located in the Waikato area and participation is completely anonymous.

“Participants will need to meet with me at a place that is convenient to them and participate in an interview, where I will ask them to share their experiences about the changes they went through during pregnancy, how they felt about their body and the factors they think influenced that,” she says.

To find out more or if you would like to be involved with this research, please contact Zoe Large on 022 080 0963 or at [email protected]