'I wish I had my pre-pregnancy body after birth horizontal ellipsis but I have to be supported': a theoretical study based on body image perception in working mothers during the postpartum period


JOURNAL OF OBSTETRICS AND GYNAECOLOGY, vol.42, no.5, pp.1103-1111, 1 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 42 Issue: 5
  • Publication Date: 1
  • Doi Number: 10.1080/01443615.2021.2006160
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, CAB Abstracts, CINAHL, EMBASE, MEDLINE, Veterinary Science Database
  • Page Numbers: pp.1103-1111
  • Keywords: Body image, grounded theory, postpartum period, women
  • Akdeniz University Affiliated: No


The body image of women in the postpartum period can be far from society's idealised body, and this can cause body dissatisfaction. This qualitative study aimed to evaluate the body image perception of women who had started working in the postpartum period, based on the grounded theory research method. A total of 22 face-to-face interviews were conducted with participants who were actively involved in working life and between 3 months and 1 year postpartum. The data were collected through in-depth interviews with a personal information form and semi-structured interview form. Coding created four main categories ('weight fluctuations and body shape', 'body-related perception', 'body-related responses from the environment' and 'body perception improvement process') and eight sub-categories. The results found that the postpartum period is a sensitive one for working women, where they have both positive and negative experiences. Their responsibilities increase, they have little time for themselves and their bodies, they experience body image dissatisfaction, and they expect support from their spouses, families, social circles and health professionals.Impact Statement What is already known on this subject? Postpartum body image is an important research subject because it expands the scope of body image literature and has significant effects on gender problems. Not being able to lose the weight gained in postpartum period or the weight gained during pregnancy is an important problem for women. With women starting working life, this period seems to be a more sensitive and anxious one for some women. What do the results of this study add? Most of the women in this study experience body dissatisfaction in the postpartum period. Some women do not want to leave the house because of their negative body image perceptions. It is an important finding that women want their spouse to gain weight during this period. What are the implications of these findings for clinical practice and/or further research? The findings of our study revealed that working mothers in the postpartum period have difficulty in sparing time for themselves and their bodies due to increased responsibilities. Working women are in particular need for more support due to their increased workloads, roles and responsibilities in childcare. Our study may guide future studies focussing on women's body image perceptions and influencing factors.