TitleTransitional bodies: a qualitative investigation of postpartum body self-compassion
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsWoekel, E, Ebbeck, V
JournalQualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health
Pagination245 - 266
Date Published01/2013

Self-compassion encompasses the three components of kindness, common humanity and mindfulness, and involves reducing one’s own suffering that can stem from personal inadequacies as well as the desire for one’s own health and well-being. The current investigation uniquely focused on the relevance of self-compassion to postpartum women coping with their changing bodies. Eighteen postpartum women participated in a one-on-one interview at the beginning and end of one month, and maintained journals between the two interviews. Themes emerged within the three components of self-compassion and an additional theme served as a motivational mechanism for taking care of one’s self through positive health behaviours (such as making exercise a priority). Kindness was described as being non-judgemental towards themselves and their bodies, along with having a self-focused moment or mental break. Common humanity was seen as the connection with other new mothers as well as people in general at the personal (interacting with similar others on a daily basis), abstract (there are other people going through what I am going through) and virtual (such as online social networking sites) levels. Mindfulness emerged with regard to a balanced perspective regarding emotions and thoughts, as well as the temporary nature of the changes (this too shall pass). These postpartum women related to and found meaning in using a self-compassionate perspective, although they also shared examples where they lacked self-compassion. The findings inform researchers who currently know little about body self-compassion while advocating positive health behaviour strategies through a caring and nurturing approach.

Short TitleQualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health