First Advisor

Christopher Allen

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Psychology and University Honors




Body image in women, New mothers -- Psychology, New mothers -- Physiology, Pregnancy -- Physiological aspects, Adjustment (Psychology)




Pregnancy is stressful to a woman’s body and often leaves physical reminders such as stretch marks, loose skin, or scars that last for many months or years after giving birth. This study used semi-structured interviews and an inductive qualitative approach to interview eight participants and explore some of the methods women use to cope with body changes from pregnancy. Analysis of interview transcripts revealed the most common changes experienced during pregnancy were weight gain, hair growth, and stretch marks; after pregnancy, weight loss, hair loss, and sagging breasts were the most common changes. The dominant coping strategy cited by participants was normalization; reaffirmation from the baby or child and purchasing better fitting clothes were additional coping strategies. Clinical implications of these findings include the need for better support systems for mothers who experience distress due to body changes during pregnancy and after birth.


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