JOURNAL ARTICLE

"What my doctor didn't tell me": examining health care provider advice to overweight and obese pregnant women on gestational weight gain and physical activity

Michael R Stengel, Jennifer L Kraschnewski, Sandra W Hwang, Kristen H Kjerulff, Cynthia H Chuang
Women's Health Issues: Official Publication of the Jacobs Institute of Women's Health 2012, 22 (6): e535-40
23122213

BACKGROUND: Appropriate gestational weight gain (GWG) is vital, as excessive GWG is strongly associated with postpartum weight retention and long-term obesity. How health care providers counsel overweight and obese pregnant women on appropriate GWG and physical activity remains largely unexplored.

METHODS: We conducted semistructured interviews with overweight and obese women after the birth of their first child to ascertain their experiences with GWG. A grounded theory approach was used to identify themes on provider advice received about GWG and physical activity during pregnancy.

RESULTS: Twenty-four women were included in the analysis. Three themes emerged in discussions regarding provider advice on GWG: 1) Women were advised to gain too much weight or given no recommendation for GWG at all, 2) providers were perceived as being unconcerned about excessive GWG, and 3) women desire and value GWG advice from their providers. On the topic of provider advice on exercise in pregnancy, three themes were identified: 1) Women received limited or no advice on appropriate physical activity during pregnancy, 2) women were advised to be cautious and limit exercise during pregnancy, and 3) women perceived that provider knowledge on appropriate exercise intensity and frequency in pregnancy was limited.

CONCLUSIONS: This study suggests that provider advice on GWG and exercise is insufficient and often inappropriate, and thus unlikely to positively influence how overweight and obese women shape goals and expectations in regard to GWG and exercise behaviors. Interventions to help pregnant women attain healthy GWG and adequate physical activity are needed.

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