Weight During the Postpartum Period: What Can Health Care Workers Do?
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- Biesmans, K., Franck, E., Ceulemans, C. et al. Matern Child Health J (2013) 17: 996. doi:10.1007/s10995-012-1077-9
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To describe the gestational month-to-month weight change, obstetric and lifestyle factors influencing postpartum weight retention (PPWR) and to suggest possible interventions to prevent PPWR. This study was part of a larger research project concerning maternal weight change after childbirth. 343 women were recruited on five maternity wards in the Antwerp region, Belgium. Weight and height were assessed by the researchers during two home visits at 3 and 14 months postpartum and participants completed a questionnaire investigating obstetric and lifestyle factors during the first home visit. The monthly weights in between the home visits were self-reported by the participants. Full data were available for 75 women. One year after childbirth 52.0 % of the women faced postpartum weight retention. The different monthly weight points within the changes differed significantly from each other up to sixth months postpartum. Prepregnancy weight, exceeding the recommendations from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) concerning weight gain during pregnancy, smoking behaviour and exercising during pregnancy significantly influenced the postpartum weight change. The amount of weight gained during pregnancy, breastfeeding, possible postpartum depression and experiencing a shortage of information concerning the weight change after childbirth significantly influenced postpartum weight retention. Weight gain during pregnancy, exceeding IOM-criteria, breastfeeding, depression and lack of information determine PPWR and can be modulated by interventions such as routine weighing or screening of pregnant women. Several of these influencing factors can be preventively influenced by health care workers. Overall, we believe women could benefit from more guidance before, during and after pregnancy. Moreover, we recommend to reintroduce routine weighing of pregnant women as weight gain during pregnancy seems one of the most important factors involved in PPWR.