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Adopting a healthy lifestyle when pregnant and obese - an interview study three years after childbirth

Dencker, A., Premberg, Å., Olander, E. K. , McCourt, C., Haby, K., Dencker, S., Glantz, A. & Berg, M. (2016). Adopting a healthy lifestyle when pregnant and obese - an interview study three years after childbirth. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, 16(1), 201. doi: 10.1186/s12884-016-0969-x


Background: Obesity during pregnancy is increasing and is related to life-threatening and ill-health conditions in both mother and child. Initiating and maintaining a healthy lifestyle when pregnant with body mass index (BMI) ≥ 30 kg/m2 can improve health and decrease risks during pregnancy and of long-term illness for the mother and the child. To minimise gestational weight gain women with BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2 in early pregnancy were invited to a lifestyle intervention including advice and support on diet and physical activity in Gothenburg, Sweden. The aim of this study was to explore the experiences of women with BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2 regarding minimising their gestational weight gain, and to assess how health professionals' care approaches are reflected in the women's narratives.

Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 17 women who had participated in a lifestyle intervention for women with BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2 during pregnancy 3 years earlier. The interviews were digitally recorded and transcribed in full. Thematic analysis was used.

Results: The meaning of changing lifestyle for minimising weight gain and of the professional's care approaches is described in four themes: the child as the main motivation for making healthy changes; a need to be seen and supported on own terms to establish healthy routines; being able to manage healthy activities and own weight; and need for additional support to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Conclusions: To support women with BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2 to make healthy lifestyle changes and limit weight gain during pregnancy antenatal health care providers should 1) address women's weight in a non-judgmental way using BMI, and provide accurate and appropriate information about the benefits of limited gestational weight gain; 2) support the woman on her own terms in a collaborative relationship with the midwife; 3) work in partnership to give the woman the tools to self-manage healthy activities and 4) give continued personal support and monitoring to maintain healthy eating and regular physical activity habits after childbirth involving also the partner and family.

Publication Type: Article
Publisher Keywords: Body mass index, Obesity, Gestational weight gain, Lifestyle intervention, Antenatal health care, Interview study
Subjects: R Medicine > RG Gynecology and obstetrics
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Midwifery & Radiography
Text - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons: Attribution International Public License 4.0.

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