Bonding with bump: Interoceptive sensibility moderates the relationship between pregnancy body satisfaction and antenatal attachment

Lucy Stafford, Lydia Munns, Anna E Crossland, Elizabeth Kirk, Catherine E J Preston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


PROBLEM: There is limited understanding and contradictory results regarding the contribution of the pregnant bodily experience to antenatal attachment.

BACKGROUND: Antenatal attachment is an important aspect of pregnancy, which has been linked with positive maternal and infant outcomes. Given the profound physical process of pregnancy, it is likely that bodily experience is implicated in antenatal attachment, with research supporting the involvement of pregnancy body (dis)satisfaction. However, previous research reveals conflicting results and has only focused on exteroceptive bodily experience (appearance) rather than internal physiological sensations (interoception).

AIM: To examine the relative contributions of both external and internal bodily experience in antenatal attachment.

METHODS: This cross-sectional study collected online survey data from 159 pregnant participants with measures capturing interoceptive sensibility (subjective experience of interoception), pregnancy body dissatisfaction and antenatal attachment.

FINDINGS: We replicated previous findings that pregnancy body dissatisfaction is related to antenatal attachment. However, the relationship between pregnancy body dissatisfaction and antenatal attachment was moderated by worry about interoceptive signals. The interoceptive construct of body trust was most strongly associated with antenatal attachment.

DISCUSSION: The results suggest that interoception is important for antenatal attachment, particularly feelings of body trust. Moreover, for individuals who were less worried about bodily sensations, high levels of body dissatisfaction were associated with low attachment scores, whilst for those who were more concerned about these sensations, the relationship between body dissatisfaction and antenatal attachment was mitigated.

CONCLUSION: The results suggest that focusing on internal sensations may be a protective strategy against pregnancy body dissatisfaction to strengthen maternal bonds.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103940
Number of pages7
Early online date8 Feb 2024
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2024

Bibliographical note

© 2024 The Author(s)


  • Pregnancy
  • Humans
  • Female
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Emotions/physiology
  • Anxiety
  • Interoception/physiology
  • Personal Satisfaction

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