Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice

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Volume 52 Issue 4 (December 1979), Pages 301-399

Cultural differences in body perception during pregnancy (pages 347-352)

A longitudinal study of body image change during pregnancy was conducted to test what aspects of body perception are sensitive to psychological change. Fifty‐five black and 30 white women who were primiparous, less than 4 months pregnant and at least 17 years old, were interviewed during their first and third trimester as well as 6 weeks post partum. Awareness of one's stomach as measured by the Stomach Focus score of the Body Focus Questionnaire was sensitive to body changes which accompany pregnancy. However, the black women did not change in awareness of their stomachs following delivery as the white women did. The Body Distortion Questionnaire revealed that the black women felt most distorted at 9 months of pregnancy but the white women declined in body distortion. Both groups reported less distortion following parturition. Thus, cultural as well as psychological and physiological factors influence the way in which the body is perceived and experienced during pregnancy.

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