The role of body image in prenatal and postpartum depression: a critical review of the literature
The aim of this study was to examine body image, depressive symptoms, and their interrelationship at post-delivery and at 6 weeks postpartum in a triethnic sample of low income new mothers. Data for this study were drawn from the Austin New Mothers Study. Participants were 76 Anglo/White, 72 African American, and 135 Hispanic new mothers who were participating in Medicaid, at least 18 years old, free of medical risk factors, and delivered at term. Body image was measured by the Body Cathexis Scale (BCS) and depressive symptoms by the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D). The leading areas of body dissatisfaction in postpartum were similar across ethnic groups. At 6 weeks postpartum Anglo women had the highest number of body image components perceived negatively, whereas African-American women had the least. In the overall sample, body image attitudes were significantly related to depressive symptoms in correlational (r's .19 to .34) and regression analyses. In addition, African American ethnicity was associated in regression analyses with higher depressive symptoms. Neither African American nor Hispanic ethnicity significantly moderated the relationship between body image attitudes and depressive symptoms in tests of interactions. Marital/partnered status and income level were related to depressive symptoms at both time points. In addition, being a woman with a parity of II was associated with higher depressive symptoms at 6 weeks postpartum. Although addition of these personal variables increased the percent of variance accounted for, body image attitudes continued to be significant predictors of depressive symptoms.