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Table 2 Key quotes from the studies to illustrate the synthesised themes

From: Women’s experiences of their pregnancy and postpartum body image: a systematic review and meta-synthesis

Description Quote
Public Event: ‘Fatness’ vs. Pregnancy  
Connecting to others through the pregnant body “There is just enormous connection between women who’ve had children… it’s like becoming part of a club …” [31]
  “It was as if suddenly the whole world had access to my body…” [23]
Socially-based aesthetic constructions of the pregnant body “Having the big tummy during pregnancy was fine, I enjoyed that, because it meant I was pregnant and everyone could see that. But now, if I’m not with my baby then people have no idea why I’m bigger” [25]
  “I haven’t put a lot of weight on. It feels more than it actually is. I’ve been lucky. It is literally all baby. Solid.” [29]
  “People don’t look at you so disgustingly when your’re pregnant when you’re wearing something like shorts as they do when you’re vastly overweight” [36]
  “I hated to be pregnant, ugh. I thought it was disgusting” [30]
  “I love my new shape. I have always been quite small, so I prefer having some shape and curves” [34]
Control: Nature vs. Self  
Boundaries between the self, the body, and the baby “It’s a bit like the invasion of the body snatchers” [38]
  “I’m becoming aware that within, it’s developing its own personality. Its becoming, I suppose, less and less dependent on me or less and less a part of me and more an individual” [31]
  “constant companion” [31]
Body as in and out of control “I guess that was one of the hardest things…just the whole sense of losing control over your body and nothing you can really do is going to stop this process from happening…” [24]
Reclaiming the postpartum body “I would have liked to have known that I wasn’t going to lose weight again quickly after having her… I just didn’t know these things…” [25]
  “It was like I had double the work…I was back to square one, but worse” [23]
  “You’re always trying to get it back, but never really can have it back” [23]
  “Some women just can’t get their old shape back at all, and I’m bound and determined not to be one of them” [37]
Role: Woman vs. Mother  
Facets of identity in pregnancy “not changed; just probably deepened. Deepened in the sense that I’m probably aware of myself in a very different way, which is valuable” [33]
  “I actually wanted to cover up, I wanted to present myself as not being pregnant…I’d this sort of professional image and I’d not let the pregnancy get in the way” [38]
  “I’m still me, really, not just a pregnancy” [33]
  “So almost everything I do is really about being pregnant in some way.” [38]
  “… there were lots of ways that I felt very ambiguous about my sexuality and my sort of like being a woman, and I suppose thinking for the two years before that I couldn’t have children had played into all those feelings that I’d had…not being a proper girl, and not being a proper woman. So [the pregnancy] confirmed – I mean, it did reverse that”. [38]
  “They [breasts] don’t add to you being a woman anymore, they’re just practical…I suppose they’ve lost – lost something sexually maybe” [38]
  “Husbands always expect their wives to be pretty. But, I can only wear maternity clothes and cannot dress up because my body shape has changed for pregnancy.” [26]
Functionality of the pregnant body “I felt like my body was preparing to look after a child, it was making a child! I was thinking ‘there is a human being developing here, and my body is doing it!’ It is phenomenal! There is nowhere else that can actually incubate and grow a human being, that’s what your body does. I was nourishing it, and it was just amazing…its mind blowing.” [25]