An exploration of pregnancy and postpartum content on Instagram: A content analysis of health and exercise focused accounts

Helen Jones, Jemma Orr, Maxine Whelan, Oyinlola Oyebode

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Although social media can be an accessible option for women to receive support, there is increasing awareness of the negative mental health impacts of social media use during the postpartum period. Idealistic portrayals on social media have been shown to lead to body dissatisfaction and low mood.

The beginning of a child’s life is a period of significant physical, mental and social adjustment for a mother. Women often resort to online sources of information to navigate this time period.

This study explored the content featured in prominent health and exercise Instagram account posts targeting pregnant and postpartum women.

Popular individual health and exercise focused accounts targeting pregnant and post-partum women were identified on Instagram. Data about the account holder and content of posts were extracted. Data were analysed using inductive content analysis.

Most included accounts belonged to American women aged 35–44 who were slim. Content analysis of 317 posts from 43 Instagram accounts unveiled six themes: reasons to exercise, weight management, guidance on doing exercise, eating well or not so well, fitting it all in, and comparison of body image.

Discussion /conclusion
Content analysed was not representative of the general population. Included posts could shape beliefs that may lead to intrapersonal weight stigma. Consideration must be given to actions that could promote individuals of all body sizes being represented in the media relating to pregnancy and the postpartum period.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101632
Number of pages9
JournalWomen and Birth
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jul 2024

Bibliographical note

This is an open access article under the CC BY license


  • Pregnancy
  • Postpartum
  • Weight
  • Social media
  • Weight stigma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology
  • Maternity and Midwifery


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