Obsessing Over Celebrity ‘Bumps’ Can Harm Mom-Baby Connection

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Photo: Paul Zimmerman/Getty Images

Who knows how we got here, but we seem to be living in something of a golden era for the celebrity “bump watch.” If you’re into this kind of thing, it’s probably not much more than a harmless diversion. But new research in the journal Psychology & Marketing shows that, for some expectant moms, obsessing over pregnant celebrities might lead to poorer body image. That’s not great, but this is worse: That body dissatisfaction could be causing some moms-to-be to feel less connected to the baby they’re carrying, this study suggests. 

It’s already pretty clear that paying too much attention to celebrities in general doesn’t exactly do wonders for one’s body image, whether you’re a man, woman, or teenager. But this is the first time that researchers have specifically examined pregnant women who follow celebrity pregnancies a little too closely, study author Jayne Krisjanous, a marketing professor at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand, said in an email to Science of Us.

Her study of more than 400 pregnant women found that the moms-to-be who were most interested in celebrity pregnancies, and who were already highly concerned with their own appearance, were more likely to stress about the weight they were gaining. They also reported lower body dissatisfaction. (For reference, a healthy-weight woman should expect to gain 25 to 35 pounds during pregnancy.) Not too surprising, sure – since these were women were already very image-focused, chances are they would’ve been bummed about their changing bodies, anyway.

But Krisjanous was also curious what impact this might have on these women’s feelings toward the pregnancy in general. In short: It wasn’t great. These women also reported lower prenatal attachment, something she defined as “the feelings of attachment or love a mother feels for her developing baby during a pregnancy.” It’s too soon to draw any firm conclusions, to be sure, but it’s probably not terrible advice in general to consider cooling it a bit on the celebrity gossip, no matter what your current “bump” status.