Becoming a mom changes everything: your priorities, your schedule, your ability to sleep more than four hours in a row. But nothing feels as dramatic and surprising as the changes in your shape and body image. In just a few months you go from using a rubber band to keep your jeans closed to wearing what can feel like a small tent. And for most women, the body image roller-coaster ride doesn’t stop after childbirth. Maybe you go back to your pre-pregnancy weight, but none of your old clothes fit. Maybe you struggle with stretch marks or changes in your breasts. Some women even go up a shoe size!
We decided to delve a little deeper into these changes and learn more about women’s body image during each stage of pregnancy and early motherhood. By understanding exactly what women are going through, and how they’re using today’s technology to cope with these changes, marketers have an opportunity to connect with women in powerful and intimate ways.
The first trimester is full of surprises: 60% of women said they were “definitely” or “somewhat” surprised by how their body changed during that time. Interestingly, while 77% said their doctors didn’t talk to them about their weight during the first trimester, our research found that women’s motivation to keep their weight in check was strongest in the beginning of their pregnancy. This suggests an opportunity to increase awareness about weight gain earlier in pregnancy, when women are more receptive to such messages.
Mom’s body image takes a hit after pregnancy, with 48% of new moms saying they liked their body more before having kids. Thirty percent of moms believe that having babies makes it harder to lose weight, and half of them report feeling angry when they see pictures of slim celebrity moms who recently gave birth. Fortunately, women’s partners are more accepting of their spouses’ post-baby weight than they were four years ago. Nevertheless, nearly 7 out of 10 women feel pressure to “bounce back” and quickly lose weight after birth.
Digital solutions that can help throughout the journey
From wearable fitness trackers to online diaries and mobile diet apps, today’s consumers have access to an amazing array of digital health and fitness tools. For Mom, who already depends on her mobile device to get through her busy day, the smartphone is a crucial part of her weight control efforts. Our research shows that nearly 8 in 10 moms have used a smartphone or tablet to find online health information, while more than half have downloaded an app related to health or wellness to their mobile device. More than half of the women we surveyed said they also use mobile apps to track ovulation, pregnancy, or childhood development.
The takeaway: Beef up your mobile buy, and understand Mom’s mentality
For marketers trying to reach moms with health and fitness products, mobile is a vital part of the media mix. But just as important as the medium is the message. Mom goes through a wide range of physical and emotional changes during pregnancy and early motherhood, and it’s crucial to understand the nuances of her mindset throughout that journey. Engage with her when she’s motivated, respect her sensitivity after childbirth, acknowledge the many challenges of her hectic schedule, and offer practical solutions that will fit into her new life. By communicating with Mom in a realistic, empathetic way, you won’t just gain her business. You’ll earn her long-term loyalty.