The experience of bearing a child: implications on body boundaries and their link to preterm birth

Nina Spaegele, Julia Ditzer*, Mariana Rodrigues, Anat Talmon*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Preterm birth, which occurs when a baby is born before 37 weeks, has enormous implications for public health. It is the leading cause of infant death and mortality in children under the age of five. Unfortunately, the multifaceted causes of preterm birth are not fully understood. One construct that has received increasing attention in women’s transition to motherhood is body boundaries, i.e., the metaphorical barriers that separate the self from the outer, surrounding “not self.” This study aims to examine the role of well-defined and disturbed body boundaries in predicting preterm birth. Methods: A sample of 655 Israeli pregnant women reported their sense of body boundaries (BBS, as measured by the Sense of Body Boundaries Survey) pre- and postnatally. We performed a General Linear Model (GLM) testing the effect of the BBS total score on the days women delivered before their due date and controlling for whether it was the women’s first child. Results: Our GLMs controlling for whether it was the women’s first child showed that the BBS total mean exhibited a significant predictive effect on the number of days delivered before the due date (F(57,313) = 3.65, p <.001). Conclusions: These results demonstrate heterogeneity in women’s sense of body boundaries during pregnancy and are the first to disentangle a link between disturbed body boundaries and preterm birth. Mediating mechanisms in this relation, e.g., psychosocial stress, as well as clinical implications are discussed in detail.

Original languageAmerican English
JournalBMC Pregnancy and Childbirth
Volume24
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 5 Feb 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2023.

Keywords

  • Body boundaries
  • Body perception
  • Childbirth
  • Pregnancy
  • Preterm birth

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