Barriers and Facilitators for Physical Activity in Already Active Pregnant and Postpartum Women? Findings from a Qualitative Study to Inform the Design of an Intervention for Active Women

Murali Krishnan Perumbakkam Subramanian*, Peter Van der Graaf, Rosemary Dawson, Louise Hayes, Louisa J Ells, Kunj Sachdeva, Liane Azevedo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Working paperPreprint

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Background –
Activity levels decline substantially in both inactive and active women during pregnancy and postpartum. There is limited information on the barriers and facilitators for physical activity participation in active women during this period. The primary aim of this study is to identify the barriers and facilitators for physical activity in already active women during pregnancy and postpartum. We also explore their views on, and requirements for, the development of an intervention to support the maintenance of or increase in physical activity.
- Five focus groups, with a total of 19 participants, were conducted. Transcripts were analysed using a thematic analysis approach.

– Out of the 19 participants, four were postpartum, and 15 were pregnant. Analysing the focus group transcripts, 22 codes were generated and grouped into eight themes: 1 cognizant of physical activity’s benets, 2-sources of advice, 3-reasons to be active during pregnancy, 4-reasons for reducing physical activity levels during pregnancy, 5 barriers to physical activity during and after pregnancy, 6-facilitators of physical activity during and after pregnancy, 7-ideal physical activity intervention, and 8-evaluation support.

– Among already active pregnant and postpartum women, factors such as pregnancy-related body changes, childcare and lack of targeted activities deter participation in physical activity. A new programme with social and group elements, including both familiar and new activities, and providing ‘satisfaction and fun’ should be developed to help increase or maintain their activity levels.

There is good evidence demonstrating the health benets of being active (1, 2). During pregnancy and postpartum physical activity has been shown to prevent several maternal and fetal conditions (3, 4). The benets of physical activity during pregnancy include improving maternal glucose levels (5), reducing the risk of gestational diabetes and impaired glucose tolerance (6) and supporting healthy neonatal birth weight (7). National statistics demonstrate that only around half of all women meet current UK physical activity guidelines (8), with activity levels in pregnant women being even lower (9, 10). Studies report that Page 3/16 pregnant women spend more than half of their time sedentary and do not meet physical activity recommendations (9, 10). Even among active women, there is a tendency to reduce physical activity levels during pregnancy, and this pattern of inactivity can persist into the postpartum period and beyond (11–16).
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationDurham, US
PublisherResearch Square
Publication statusSubmitted - 9 Jun 2020
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameResearch Square
PublisherResearch Square
ISSN (Electronic)2693-5015

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