Exploring Women’s Perspectives on Effective Interventions to Promote Healthy Eating and Exercise during Pregnancy: A Qualitative Study
Background: Approximately 3 in 5 U.S. women of reproductive age are now classified as overweight or obese and are at risk for a number of medical complications during pregnancy and childbirth. To date, there is limited evidence to guide effective strategies for limiting pregnancy weight gain in this population. Methods: Seventeen pregnant women with obesity were recruited and 10 were randomized to the behavioral nutrition and physical activity intervention group and 7 were in the routine care group. Of the 17 in the pilot study, 10 participated in a 60-minute semi-structured interview. The interviews explored barriers and facilitators of success when attending the prior study visits and adhering to recommended lifestyle behavior changes. Transcripts were coded using an inductive thematic analysis. Results: The LIFE intervention participants expressed increased knowledge, energy and perceived behavioral control about appropriate nutrition and physical activity during pregnancy. Specifically, the intervention group participants reported the supportive, professional study team members was an effective social support system in being able to complete the different aspects of the intervention program. Additionally, the nutrition education and exercise coaching provided a key learning opportunity for making progress toward healthy management of weight gain during their pregnancy. Conclusions: Our study demonstrates that pregnant women who are overweight or obese are eager to learn more about healthy eating and physical activity and may benefit from a variety of educational and support programs. Further research is needed to understand what additional components of behavioral intervention may be suited for women from diverse backgrounds and settings who are obese and at higher risk for maternal and infant complications.