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    Experiences of physical activity, healthy eating and quality of life during and following pregnancy in overweight and obese postpartum women

    Hanley, Stephanie J, Varley, Ian, Sale, Craig ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5816-4169 and Elliott-Sale, Kirsty J (2023) Experiences of physical activity, healthy eating and quality of life during and following pregnancy in overweight and obese postpartum women. Maternal and Child Health Journal. ISSN 1092-7875

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    Abstract

    Objectives This retrospective study explored the experiences of women with overweight or obesity regarding physical activity, diet and quality of life leading up to, during, and following pregnancy. Methods A qualitative descriptive design was adopted, whereby data collected through semi-structured interviews were analysed using thematic analysis. Throughout the interviews, individuals were asked to describe their barriers to a healthy lifestyle during and following pregnancy. Results Ten women (34.5 ± 5.2 years old, BMI 30.4 ± 3.5 kg·m− 2) who were between 12 and 52 weeks postpartum participated. A range of themes were identified when discussing barriers to physical activity and healthy eating during and following pregnancy. For example, tiredness, especially in the third trimester of pregnancy, and a lack of support at home, was often cited as preventing engagement in exercise and healthy eating practices. A lack of convenience when attending exercise classes, medical complications following the birth and the cost of attending pregnancy-specific classes were identified as barriers to exercise engagement. Cravings and nausea were identified as barriers to healthy eating during pregnancy. Quality of life was positively associated with exercise and healthy eating, whilst a lack of sleep, loneliness and a loss of freedom since the baby had arrived negatively influenced quality of life. Discussion Postpartum women with overweight and obesity experience many barriers when attempting to engage in a healthy lifestyle during and following pregnancy. These findings can be used to inform the design and delivery of future lifestyle interventions in this population. Significance What is Already Known on this Subject? Pregnant and postpartum women experience a multitude of barriers when attempting to engage in a healthy lifestyle. What this Study adds? Until now, investigations into barriers to participation in a healthy lifestyle in overweight and obese pregnant and postpartum women have been lacking. Akin to normal weight women, women with a BMI > 25 kg/m2 experience many barriers to a healthy lifestyle during and following pregnancy. In this exclusive overweight and obese population, medical complications was the most cited barrier to postpartum exercise engagement. These results will be considered when designing future postpartum lifestyle interventions.

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