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

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Dencker, Anna ; Premberg, Åsa ; Olander, Ellinor K. ; McCourt, Christine ; Haby, Karin ; Dencker, Sofie ; Glantz, Anna ; Berg, Marie (2016)
  • Publisher: Springer Nature
  • Journal: BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth (vol: 16)
  • Related identifiers: doi: 10.1186/s12884-016-0969-x, pmc: PMC4967348
  • Subject: Research Article | Antenatal health care | RG | Body mass index | Obstetrics and Gynaecology | Gestational weight gain | Interview study | Obesity | Lifestyle intervention

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.\ud \ud 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.\ud \ud 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.\ud \ud 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.
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