Do the psychosocial and behavioral changes that accompany motherhood influence the impact of pregnancy on long-term weight gain?

Helen Harris*, G. T.H. Ellison, S. Clement

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    65 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    The aim of the present study was to assess whether the psychosocial and behavioral changes that occur during and after pregnancy influence long-term weight gain. The study examined 74 mothers enrolled in the Antenatal Care (ANC) Project (a randomized controlled trial of antenatal care based in South London), all of whom had volunteered to take part in a subsequent follow-up study. Data on body weight at the beginning of pregnancy; lifestyle and behavior during pregnancy; antenatal care and obstetric history; together with measures of postnatal depression and parenting stress following pregnancy were taken from the existing ANC Project database. Additional measurements of height and weight together with information on a variety of lifestyle changes and psychosocial characteristics, were gathered during semi-structured interviews at each mother's home, two and a half years after their children had been born. The results show that pregnancy-related weight gains are not simply the result of retaining weight that is gained during pregnancy, but that they also originate from gaining additional weight in the postpartum period. Mothers who felt they ate more after their children were born, had significantly greater long-term weight gains (2.78 (1.42) kg) than those who felt that they had not increased their food intake (-1.15 (0.76) kg; t = 2.49, p = 0.016). Similarly, mothers who felt they had greater access to food postpartum, had significantly greater long-term weight gains (1.70 (0.87) kg) than those who felt they did not have greater access to food (-1.37 (1.13) kg; t = 2.18, p = 0.032). There was some evidence that the lifestyle changes which accompany pregnancy and motherhood increase some women's vulnerability to eating disorder psychopathology. Mothers who felt they did less exercise after pregnancy than they did before, were also at greater risk of long-term weight gain (p = 0.028), as were mothers with low numbers of supportive individuals (p = 0.033). Neither the stress of parenting nor maternal depression were significantly associated with an increased risk of long-term weight gain (p > 0.05).

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)65-79
    Number of pages15
    JournalJournal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynaecology
    Volume20
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 1999

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright:
    Copyright 2017 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

    Keywords

    • Lifestyle
    • Obesity
    • Pregnancy
    • Psychosocial
    • Weight gain

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