Finding Balance: Women's Successes, Struggles, and Setbacks With Postpartum Weight Loss
Article first published online: 2 JUN 2011
© 2011 AWHONN, the Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses
Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, & Neonatal Nursing
Special Issue: Proceedings of the 2011 AWHONN Convention
Volume 40, Issue Supplement s1, page S91, June 2011
How to Cite
Montgomery, K. S. (2011), Finding Balance: Women's Successes, Struggles, and Setbacks With Postpartum Weight Loss. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, & Neonatal Nursing, 40: S91. doi: 10.1111/j.1552-6909.2011.01243_8.x
- Issue published online: 2 JUN 2011
- Article first published online: 2 JUN 2011
- pregnancy weight gain;
- postpartum weight loss;
- postpartum support;
- postpartum challenges
Obesity is epidemic in the United States, and pregnancy often contributes to significant weight gain in women. In 2007 to 2008, more than 36% of American adults were considered overweight (BMI>25) and 32.2% of all U.S. adults were considered obese (BMI>30). Obesity is linked to health-related illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, arthritis, and more recently cancer of the breast, colon, esophagus, kidney, and uterus. Many postpartum women are unsuccessful in returning to their prepregnancy weight. This study was designed to examine women's experiences of weight loss during the postpartum period.
Phenomenology, according to Husserl's perspective.
Private location of the women's choosing.
Twenty-six women, who ranged in age from 25 to 35 years, and had given birth within the last 5 years, were interviewed regarding their experiences with postpartum weight loss. The majority of the sample was White.
Interviews were transcribed verbatim and themes were identified from each of the interviews. Comparisons were made between interviews to identify common experiences between women. Data were analyzed according to the Giorgi method.
The women in the study had a wide range of experiences. The overarching theme that represents their experiences was the need to balance weight loss activity with other responsibilities as they pursued their return to prepregnancy weight. Themes that emerged from the interviews can be categorized as women's challenges with return to prepregnancy weight and balancing success with acceptance of body changes following pregnancy. The individual themes that were categorized as women's challenges included: (a) time and motivation issues; (b) the need for support; (c) weight and other struggles; (d) varied contributions of exercise, breastfeeding, eating among women; and (e) pregnancy contributions to weight gain. Realizing benefits (theme 6), the wonders of social support (theme 7), wow that was quick! (theme 8), and comfort in self (theme 9) were categorized as women balancing success and acceptance.
Conclusion/Implications for Nursing Practice
Women experience a variety of challenges and successes with postpartum weight loss. Interventions to assist women with weight loss following pregnancy should target these challenges and support their successes. Understanding women's positive and negative experiences can assist health care providers to successfully intervene in helping women lose weight following pregnancy and avoid long-term weight gain and obesity development.