Bouncing back with bliss: nurturing body image and embracing intuitive eating in the postpartum: a cross-sectional replication study

Megan Lee*, Charlotte Target, Caitlin Liddelow, Karena J. Burke

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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Abstract

Aims/Background: 

Social pressure to ‘bounce back’ and unrealistic body expectations place postpartum women at risk of body image dissatisfaction, depressive symptomology, and disordered eating. Prior research suggests that intuitive eating may reduce these risks. This study replicated a previous 2016 study between intuitive eating, postpartum depression, disordered eating, and body image satisfaction. 

Design/Method: 

Women over 18 who had given birth in the last four years were recruited through social media to complete an online survey. The final sample comprised 163 women aged between 21 and 42 years (M = 33.61, SD = 4.59) who were between one and 208 weeks postpartum (M = 78.27, SD = 53.40). 

Results:

Correlation analyses revealed significant negative associations between intuitive eating and body dissatisfaction, disordered eating, depression, and BMI. A hierarchical multiple linear regression demonstrated that body image dissatisfaction significantly predicted 29% of the variance in intuitive eating scores after controlling for BMI, disordered eating, and postpartum depression F(4, 133) = 68.71, p <.001. Body image dissatisfaction fully mediated the relationships between intuitive eating and disordered eating (c’ = -0.01, p =.359), and depression (c’ = 0.01, p =.427). There was a significant reduction in body dissatisfaction scores in the present sample compared to the 2016 cohort t(292.87) = 3.38, p <.001. 

Conclusion: 

These findings highlight the central role of body image and intuitive eating in postpartum wellbeing and emphasise the need for tailored interventions promoting realistic postpartum body expectations and adaptive eating behaviours.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology
Early online date19 Jun 2024
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 19 Jun 2024

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