Factors that influence physical activity for pregnant and postpartum women and implications for primary care

Document Type


Publication details

Davis, KM & Doran, FM 2011, 'Factors that influence physical activity for pregnant and postpartum women and implications for primary care', Australian Journal of Primary Health, vol. 17, no. 1, pp. 79-85.

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Many pregnant women and women of child-bearing age do not engage in the recommended levels of physical activity despite the well known benefits. Pregnancy and the postpartum period can be a time when inactivity actually increases. Women who experience gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) during their pregnancy are often advised to become more active in order to ameliorate their increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Health professionals have an influential role in promoting physical activity, which would be enhanced with an understanding of the factors that positively and negatively influencewomen’s participation in physical activity during pregnancy and in the postpartum period. This research sought to explore these factors with pregnant and postpartum women including those who had experienced GDM and the attention given to physical activity during pregnancy.Asurvey was developed after a critical review of factors identified from previous studies. Women were recruited from the antenatal clinic, community health centres and the local media. Results from 72 women are reported from a predominately well educated, Caucasian population. Overall, the results were confirmatory of factors previously identified. Lack of child care, time constraints, no time and feeling unwell during pregnancy hindered activity and factors that facilitated activity included family support, enjoyment of activity and to prevent later health problems. It was also found that non-GDM women are given minimal advice about exercise during pregnancy.A checklist has been developed for health professionals, in partnership with women, to direct attention to the factors that enable and hinder participation in physical activity during and after pregnancy.

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