Background Excessive gestational weight gain (GWG) is associated with increased risk of pregnancy-related complications, postpartum weight retention, and long-term obesity. Little is known about the behavioural habits of pregnant women who achieve and exceed recommended GWG.
Method In 2011, qualitative interviews were conducted in Pennsylvania with postpartum women who were overweight or obese prior to pregnancy to ascertain their behaviours and attitudes regarding dietary habits, physical activity, and self-monitoring during pregnancy. Thematic analysis identified the habits of women who achieved and exceeded recommended GWG guidelines.
Results Of the 29 women interviewed, 11 had appropriate GWG and 18 had excessive GWG. Women achieving appropriate GWG reported modest increases in caloric intake if at all, with deliberate meal and snack planning, while women with excessive GWG described "eating-for-two." Nearly all women with excessive GWG reported exercising less during pregnancy (or remaining sedentary), while women with appropriate GWG largely increased or maintained pre-pregnancy physical activity levels. About half of the sample reported self-monitoring weight gain during pregnancy, but women achieving recommended GWG tied their weight monitoring with GWG goals consistent with recommended guidelines.
Conclusions Women who achieved appropriate GWG reported deliberate dietary habits and physical activity planning, with appropriate GWG goals during pregnancy. Women exceeding recommended GWG described "eating-for-two," were sedentary, and either had no goals for GWG or intended to gain more weight than recommended.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Nutrition and Dietetics