Women’s reported health behaviours before and during pregnancy: A retrospective study
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Objective: This study aimed to determine women’s reported health behaviours (physical activity, diet, weight management) before and during pregnancy, and to identify sources of health information. Design: Retrospective study incorporating quantitative (a self-completed survey) and qualitative (one-on-one interviews) methods. Methodology: Participants were women aged 18 or over; had no pre-existing medical condition that might be exacerbated during pregnancy (e.g. diabetes, heart condition); and had given birth in the last 12 months. Nineteen women agreed to one-on-one interviews and 100 women agreed to complete a mailed questionnaire. Qualitative data and quantitative data were analysed using a descriptive qualitative methodology and by using McNemar’s test for correlated proportions, respectively. Results: Participants reported a significant reduction in their level of physical activity during pregnancy; a significant increase in consumption of fruit, vegetables and fibre, and a decrease in fast food consumption (all p < 0.05). Medical practitioners are the preferred source of health information but seem to provide insufficient information about health behaviours during pregnancy in relation to physical activity, diet and weight management. Conclusion: Women reported eating a healthier diet and reducing their level of physical activity during the antenatal period, compared to pre-pregnancy. There is a need to improve the provision of health information on physical activity, diet and weight management in the antenatal period.
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