Implementing a diet and exercise program for limiting maternal weight gain in obese pregnant women: a pilot study

Amelia Lee, Jane Karpavicius, Elisabeth Gasparini, Della Forster
Australian & New Zealand Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology 2012, 52 (5): 427-32

BACKGROUND: Thirty-four per cent of Australian women having a baby are overweight or obese. Excessive gestational weight gain leads to significant complications for mother and baby, not only during the pregnancy but in the long term. Limiting weight gain in pregnancy is thought to reduce complications, but there is limited evidence to guide practice.

AIM: To test the feasibility and acceptance of an intervention aimed at limiting gestational weight gain in obese pregnant women.

METHODS: A low-cost multidisciplinary program, comprised of four individual dietary education sessions and three exercise classes, was developed and implemented at a tertiary hospital in metropolitan Melbourne, Australia. The Maternal Weight Management program was offered to obese women at their pregnancy booking visit. Program uptake and women's views of the program were explored via telephone survey, and pregnancy and birth outcomes collected.

RESULTS: Seventy-four women participated in this pilot study; 95% attended at least one session of the program and the attrition rates were high. Fifty-three per cent completed the postnatal survey. Women confirmed their preference for individual appointments and felt it was important for the hospital to offer a weight management program.

CONCLUSIONS: The program we designed had poor uptake and cannot be recommended in its current format. Future studies and considerations could look at more acceptable program design and recruitment strategies and should include formative work with women who would be eligible for such intervention.

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