Postpartum self-compassion : an investigation of the physical self Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/3x816p60j

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  • During the transition to motherhood, postpartum women undergo immense changes in all areas of life. Of particular interest are the changes at the cognitive and emotional level with regards to one's physical self. After giving birth, postpartum women would benefit from a caring perspective in how they relate to their bodies during this season of their lives. Self-compassion refers to empathizing and reducing suffering through three main components: kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness (Neff 2003a). By examining the connection between self-compassion and the postpartum period, we can further understand one's thoughts and feelings during this transitional time of motherhood. The first empirical study (N=250) examined the associations and clustering of self-compassion with affective, cognitive, and demographic variables in postpartum women. This study found that postpartum women reported associations consistent with the existing literature where self-compassion was positively associated with physical self-worth and body satisfaction as well as negatively associated with depression and social physique anxiety. This research also examined the data through cluster analysis and found that three clusters emerged. Clusters 1 and 2 reflected similar yet opposing patterns among the variables in which self-compassion was positively associated with adaptive psychological functioning and inversely related to negative affect and cognitions. Cluster 3 revealed high self-compassion levels with lower physical self-perceptions. This research sheds light on the possibility that higher self-compassion does not always demonstrate positive physical self-perceptions. The second manuscript looked at the meanings and experiences of body self-compassion in postpartum women (N=18) from a qualitative perspective. By further understanding how women cope with their changing postpartum bodies in a self-compassionate way, this research provided insight into how these postpartum women related to the components of self-compassion (kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness) in their own unique ways. Themes emerged from one-on-one interviews and journal entries across a one month period that reflected each of the components of self-compassion as well as one theme that represented a motivational mechanism for taking care of one‟s self through positive health behaviors. Although these women had moments in which they lacked self-compassion, ultimately they benefited and found meaning in adopting a self-compassionate attitude towards their bodies and themselves.
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