Unrealistic post-baby body photos on social media could cause new mums extra stress, study finds | UK News

Unrealistic post-baby body photos on social media could put extra stress on a new mom and lead to lower body satisfaction, a study has found.

Most images of women posted on Instagram tagged #postpartumbody don’t reflect the actual population of new mothers, researchers said.

Approximately 1,000 images are uploaded to the social media site under the daily hashtag, the study found.

As part of their research, the authors looked at 600 photos posted with the tag for body fat and musculature.

They found that 37% of the images had “low” body fat and 54% were considered “medium”, while about half had “visible” or “high” muscle definition.

The study, which is being presented at the International Obesity Congress in Australia, also found that four out of 10 women in the photos were wearing sportswear.

The authors explained that women with higher fat mass are less likely to post images of themselves on Instagram, and viewing images of new mothers with lower body fat “may worsen body satisfaction at this already vulnerable stage of life”.

One of the authors, Dr Megan Gow, from the University of Sydney, added that some women may “experience feelings of inadequacy” after giving birth.

“These images present an ‘idealized’ version of the postpartum body, which may contribute to body dissatisfaction in postpartum women who view such images,” she said.

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The results also suggested that health information on the social media site may be “necessary” to combat the negative effects.

“Given that Instagram is heavily viewed by women in the postpartum period, the inclusion of health information may be necessary to interrupt the potentially harmful content observed in our study,” the authors added.

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“This may include information targeting diet, exercise, infant feeding, and psychological well-being to optimize postpartum health.”

Fitness influencer Chloe Madeley has been praised for sharing her postpartum insecurities, telling her followers she felt “jealous” of “other women in nice normal clothes” and couldn’t imagine “feeling sexy again”.

“Your journey could (probably) be completely different. No two pregnancies, deliveries or postnatal recoveries will be alike,” she said in a post.