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Birth. 2006 Jun;33(2):147-53.

I am a woman and i'm pregnant: body image of women in Taiwan during the third trimester of pregnancy.

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Graduate Institute of Nursing, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan.



Women's body image in late pregnancy and its relationship to the assumption of the maternal role have not been fully addressed in transitional cultures like that of Taiwan. The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore body image and body satisfaction of women in Taiwan during the third trimester of pregnancy.


Eighteen women in the 29th to 39th week of pregnancy who were receiving prenatal examinations at clinics at a medical center in Taipei, Taiwan, took part in open-ended, face-to-face interviews concentrating on the women's reactions to the changes in their bodies. Interviews were analyzed using a phenomenological approach.


Two major themes central to women's experience of their bodies during late pregnancy were identified. One theme, "My body: where did it go?" reflects women's use of nonpregnant adult female standards of beauty to assess their pregnant bodies and their hope of regaining their "feminine self" after childbirth. The other theme, "My body = my baby's body," reflects women's view of the changes in their bodies as an indication of their baby's health and growth and as a sign of their adequacy as mothers.


Conflict between "what is good for me as a woman" and "what is good for my child or for me as a mother" is very apparent when examining women's experience of late pregnancy. Awareness of the complexity of body-related experiences of pregnant women will help to identify sources of stress and concern that may interfere with the pregnant woman's self-identity, her social functioning, and even her experience of birth itself, and may help health care professionals provide better social support and care for women approaching the end of pregnancy.

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