Influence of weight gain recommendations on the behavioral intentions of pregnant women



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The majority of pregnant women exceed gestational weight gain (GWG) recommendations set by the Institute of Medicine during pregnancy, putting them at risk for serious pregnancy complications, gestational diabetes, pregnancy-induced hypertension, and maternal and child obesity. Little is known about whether knowledge of weight recommendations influence intentions to change health behaviors during pregnancy. The purpose of this study is to explore how knowledge influences the health behavior intentions of pregnant women. Participants were recruited from the UT Resident Clinic and screened face-to-face. Women, (8-20-week gestation) in their first pregnancy where invited to participated in one 60-minute in-depth interview. Research staff provided an educational handout with GWG recommendations and risks associated with exceeding recommendations. A trained interviewer asked participants, “If your doctor or nurse gave you all this information, what would you do with it? How would it influence the way you live your daily life during your pregnancy?”. Interviews were recorded and transcribed verbatim. 29 women were recruited for this study. In general, participants where interested in adhering to the recommendations and mentioned intentions to change eating behaviors and activity levels as a result of the knowledge gained. Some participants had confusion about how to adhere to the guidelines and some had no intentions to change. The next step is to test whether these behavioral intentions are acted upon by pregnant women. Future research should also determine effective interventions to help women adhere to the recommendations. This project was completed with contributions from Pamela D. Berens from the University of Texas Health Sciences Center.