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Physical Activity in Pregnancy: Women's Perceptions, Practices, and Influencing Factors

Authors

  • Jane Cioffi PhD,

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    • Jane Cioffi, PhD, is a Senior Lecturer at the School of Nursing and Midwifery, University of Western Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.

  • Virginia Schmied PhD,

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    • Virginia Schmied, PhD, is an Associate Professor of Midwifery at the School of Nursing and Midwifery, University of Western Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.

  • Hannah Dahlen PhD,

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    • Hannah Dahlen, PhD, is an Associate Professor of Midwifery at the School of Nursing and Midwifery, University of Western Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.

  • Annie Mills PhD,

    Corresponding author
      Address correspondence to Annie Mills, PhD, School of Nursing and Midwifery, College of Health and Science, University of Western Sydney, Building EB, Parramatta Campus, Locked Bag 1797, Penrith South DC, NSW 1797, Australia. ann.mills@uws.edu.au
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    • Annie Mills, PhD, is a Senior Research Associate at the School of Nursing and Midwifery, University of Western Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.

  • Charlene Thornton MScMed,

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    • Charlene Thornton, MScMed (Clin Epi), is a Clinical Epidemiologist at the School of Medicine, University of Western Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.

  • Margaret Duff RM, PhD,

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    • Margaret Duff, RM, PhD, is a Research Assistant in the Exploring Pregnancy Outcomes Research Node, College of Health & Science, University of Western Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.

  • Joanne Cummings PhD,

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    • Joanne Cummings, PhD, is a Research Assistant in the Nursing Research Unit, Sydney West Area Health Service & University of Western Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.

  • Gregory S. Kolt PhD

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    • Gregory S. Kolt, PhD, is Professor and Head of the School of Biomedical and Health Sciences, University of Western Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.


Address correspondence to Annie Mills, PhD, School of Nursing and Midwifery, College of Health and Science, University of Western Sydney, Building EB, Parramatta Campus, Locked Bag 1797, Penrith South DC, NSW 1797, Australia. ann.mills@uws.edu.au

Abstract

Introduction: Evidence shows that physical activity during and after pregnancy results in health gains for women. There is no clear understanding apparent in the literature of women's experiences with physical activity during their pregnancy. The aim of this study was to describe women's perceptions and participation in physical activity during pregnancy and identify factors influencing participation.

Methods: In this qualitative descriptive study, face-to-face interviews were conducted with 19 women, all at different stages of pregnancy, who were asked about their experiences with physical activity.

Results: Data analysis resulted in four categories describing “meaning of physical activity,” “perceived benefits of physical activity in pregnancy,” “barriers to and motives for participation in physical activity,” and “process of engagement in physical activity.” The process of engagement in physical activity by women was shown to have three marked phases: “uncertainty,” “engaging,” and “compromise.”

Discussion: To facilitate women's self-management across these phases, support is needed that focuses on providing strategies to strengthen individual approaches by women. Such support might promote activities of daily living as a specific entity of physical activity, expose myths about activity during pregnancy, and endorse the benefits of weight management arising from physical activity, not just during pregnancy, but across the lifespan.

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