Being pregnant is life-changing not only because you’re carrying a tiny human inside of you but because your body is also undergoing several physical changes. You’re putting on a lot of weight, you feel gassy and bloated, you need to pee all the time, plus your hormones are going haywire. It’s a lot to take in.
Some women find it easy to embrace these changes — and good for them. According to a new study, learning to love your body during pregnancy can have a positive impact on your relationship with your baby.
Researchers from the University of York in the United Kingdom say that by assessing a woman’s relationship with her body during pregnancy, it could help predict how well the mother might bond with her unborn baby and gauge her long-term emotional well-being. The results of their study indicate that it would be beneficial to introduce a standardized method of assessing a woman’s feelings toward her changing body during pregnancy.
This standardized method, which the researchers call the BUMPS method and developed by scientists at the University of York and Anglia Ruskin University, will have pregnant women rate themselves based on questions relating to satisfaction with appearing pregnant, weight gain concerns, and the physical burdens of pregnancy.
After studying 600 pregnant women who answered the BUMPS questionnaire, researchers found that women who felt more positively about their body changes in pregnancy were more likely to have better relationships with their partners, have lower depression and anxiety scores, and were better at interpreting their bodily signals.
The questionnaire was taken at each trimester of pregnancy and included questions like the type of clothes a woman wears during pregnancy, concerns about the size of her “baby bump,” and any frustrations she might have on physical activity.
High scores from the BUMPS questionnaire were a strong indicator that a pregnant woman would have a positive attachment to her child. Low scores suggested that these women may need additional emotional support during pregnancy and monitoring after birth for signs of postnatal depression.
“Women are under constant pressure about their appearance and during pregnancy and after birth is no exception,” says Dr. Catherine Preston, a body image expert from the University of York’s Department of Psychology. “It is important therefore that pregnancy care is not just about the physical health of the mother and the health of the unborn child, but also about the women’s emotional well-being, which can give us a lot of important information about how they might react to being a new mom in the longer-term.”