Interoceptive sensibility and body satisfaction in pregnant and non-pregnant women with and without children

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Pregnancy is a time of great physical and psychological change. As well as prominent changes in the external appearance of the body, such as the baby bump, there are also substantial changes taking place within the body. Our awareness of, and attention towards, internal bodily signals (interoception) is thought to have a direct impact on how we feel about our bodies. Therefore, understanding how our experience of these interoceptive signals might change during pregnancy may have important implications for maternal wellbeing. This study examined body satisfaction and interoceptive sensibility (subjective experience of interoception) in pregnant and non-pregnant women with and without children. Feelings towards pregnancy-specific changes in body satisfaction and interoceptive sensibility were also examined in women in their first pregnancy (primigravida) and subsequent pregnancies (multigravida). It was found that pregnancy did not directly impact levels of body satisfaction, instead pregnant and non-pregnant women with children reported less satisfaction with their bodies compared to those without children. Primigravida women were more satisfied with the appearance of pregnancy specific bodily changes compared to multigravida women. Interestingly, these differences in body satisfaction in those with children (pregnant and non-pregnant) were mediated by the extent to which women trusted their bodies (measure of interoceptive sensibility). All other pregnancy related changes in interoceptive sensibility and body satisfaction were either non-significant or had small effect sizes. These results may suggest body trust as an important factor to support during the transition to parenthood in order to improve body satisfaction in mothers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16138
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 27 Sept 2022

Bibliographical note

© 2022. The Author(s).


  • Attention
  • Awareness
  • Child
  • Emotions
  • Female
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Interoception
  • Personal Satisfaction

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