Celebrity baby bumps affect pre-natal attachment

Obsessing over celebrity baby bumps can have a negative impact on women’s attachment to their babies during pregnancy and after birth, Victoria Business School research has found.

Obsessing over celebrity baby bumps can have a negative impact on women’s attachment to their babies during pregnancy and after birth, Victoria Business School research has found.

In a study of 468 pregnant New Zealand women, recently published in Psychology & Marketing, Dr Jayne Krisjanous, Dr Aaron Gazley and Dr James Richard, all from the School of Marketing and International Business, demonstrate the potentially unhealthy link between images of pregnant celebrities in the media and the disturbance to the important prenatal attachment developed during pregnancy.

While those women with a minimal or moderate interest in following pregnant celebrities weren't seen as being at risk, there are some groups of women who are more vulnerable to these images.

"These include the young, those unable to gain information about pregnancy from established reliable sources, or women who have a non-healthy level of regard, or obsession, with celebrity culture," says Dr Krisjanous.

"These women tend to worry about their weight – leading to a negative pregnant body image and then a reduced level of pre-natal attachment, which can carry over after the baby is born."

Dr Krisjanous says the popular press tends to applaud celebrities who maintain ideal body shape, while those who don't are shamed.

"Pregnant celebrities are expected to continue to look attractive, with a perfect bump being the only change to their usual figure."

The manner in which pregnant celebrities are reported on should be approached with caution, suggests Dr Krisjanous.

"We are not suggesting that pregnant celebrities should not be in the media – but it would be great to see them having a greater role in promoting healthy lifestyles and attitudes.  

"We also advise maternity health practitioners to be aware of the sources women receive information from and the influences that form attitudes about pregnancy lifestyles and appearance.

"Practitioners should ensure that they discuss and explore this with their clients and patients, pointing out where reliable and trustworthy information can be sourced."