Physical Activity Patterns and Maternal Well-Being in Postpartum Women

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Maternal and Child Health Journal


postpartum, maternal well-being, physical activity, exercise


Objective: To examine changes in activity prepregnancy to postpartum; examine postpartum activity and sociodemographic predictors of maternal well-being; and, examine maternal well-being in subjects on the basis of sport/exercise activity prepregnancy to postpartum. Methods: Ninety-one postpartum women completed a Kaiser Physical Activity Survey (KPAS) Ainsworth BE, Sternfeld B, Richardson MT, Jackson K. Evaluation of the Kaiser Physical Activity Survey in women. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2000; 32:1327–38. and the Lederman Postpartum Questionnaire (PPQ) Lederman RP, Weingarten CT, Lederman E. Postpartum self-evaluation questionaire: Measures of maternal adaptation. In: Raff BS, Carrol P, editors. Perinatal parental behaviour: Nursing research and implications for newborn health. New York: Alan R. Liss, 1981:201–31. Subjects recalled activity prepregnancy and postpartum for the KPAS indexes that included household/care giving (HC), active living habits (AL), occupation (O), and sports/exercise (SE). The PPQ has seven well-being subscales. Results: Subjects with older infants or no other children increased HC and decreased O prepregnancy to postpartum compared to subjects with younger infants or ≥1 other child. Predictors of the variance in the PPQ subscales included SE and AL (21% in subscale one), SE (6.0% in subscale two), HC (5.3% in subscale three), socioeconomic status (19.7% in subscale four), O (5.0% in subscale five), education (5.2% in subscale seven). Subjects who maintained or increased SE showed better well-being as compared to subjects who reported no SE or decreased SE prepregnancy to postpartum. Conclusions: In this group of women, subjects with older infants or no other children reported higher HC and lower O prepregnancy to postpartum. Postpartum SE, education, and socioeconomic status were predictors of maternal well-being. In general, better maternal well-being was found among subjects maintaining or increasing SE compared to no SE or decreased SE prepregnancy to postpartum. Support from partner/husband, family, and friends were significant factors in maintaining or increasing SE.


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