Study: Instagram is Bad for Postpartum Body Image
If you're a new mom, you've probably noticed that social media has become a very important place for you to find connection with other moms. Since 2020, postpartum moms have been relying on Instagram more than ever to feel less isolated and lonely. But a new study by Healthcare is exposing the negative effects the platform has on postpartum body image.
A few years ago, when I was working in a doctor's office I did a lot of well-baby visits. During those visits, I'd hear postpartum moms talk about the disconnect they felt with their bodies. It's an interesting relationship with ourselves after we have a baby- on the one hand, there is huge pride in creating a life and bringing it earth-side. On the other hand, we feel so much pressure to live up to impossible beauty standards and that leaves us feeling bad about ourselves.
New moms would often come in with their babies before they were six weeks old and the question always came up:
When will my postpartum body bounce back?
Instagram and your Postpartum Body: a Complicated Relationship
Social media platforms can be a wonderful way for new moms to connect, but we often forget about the realities behind the images. When I created the MamaSoup social media platform for moms, I thoughtfully made the focus of the app the conversation rather than the pictures. As a mama of four, I knew that comparison with other moms makes you feel crappy so I wanted to create a community that connects moms on a deeper level: by sharing stories and experiences.
The problem is that most social media platforms tend to highlight parenthood as a fairytale, rather than revealing the complex realities of raising a family.
And nobody is more vulnerable than postpartum moms.
Is social media an accurate representation of a normal postpartum body?
In a nutshell, no.
Although more studies need to be conducted, the research points to some pretty bleak current statistics.
At the time of the study, there were 1.3 million posts under #postpartumbody on Instagram alone. The majority of these images featured a postpartum mom, without a child.
The majority of the images (91%) featured women who would be classified as thin or with medium body fat. Only 9% of the photos showed a fat postpartum body.
In this particular study, 53% of the pictures of postpartum moms were taken in fitness wear.
How many Instagram posts featured normal changes to a postpartum body?
Growing a baby is hard on a body and the majority of women who've had a baby experience:
- stretch marks
- loose tummy skin
- sagging breasts
- c section scar
The study found that only 5% of the posts under #postpartumbody included any of these common side-effects of pregnancy and birth. It can be very harmful when new moms don't see images of postpartum bodies that look like theirs on social media.
If you're pregnant or have just had a baby, I hope you'll consider the effects that social media may have on your emotional and mental health. I've long suspected that Instagram is bad for postpartum body image, and I'm so happy this study was conducted so we can continue to talk about it!
Joanne Ilaqua - CEO of MamaSoup
Hey there, I’m Joanne.
I’ve spent about 20 years serving women as a nurse, doula and Lamaze educator. I have 4 kids and I know firsthand how lonely and isolating motherhood can be, so I created MamaSoup. I'm mostly known for my love of red wine, spontaneously singing and my confidence in being my true self on social media. When I’m not busy building women up, you can catch me taking Instagram stories of my bulldog Ruby, watching The Handmaid’s Tale, playing MUber (Mom Uber) to my kids or vacationing in my favourite town: Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
I love serving the world by providing a space for moms to connect and support each other. In my opinion, moms are the backbone of communities because they are (literally) raising the future!
As the founder and CEO of MamaSoup, I’ve been featured on CHEX TV Morning Show, KawarthaNOW, Economic Development- The City of Kawartha Lakes and MyKawartha.
Still with me? Join me over at MamaSoup to keep the conversation going!