Maternal and Child Health Journal

, Volume 23, Issue 12, pp 1604–1612 | Cite as

The Feasibility and Efficacy of a Behavioral Intervention to Promote Appropriate Gestational Weight Gain

  • Meghan BaruthEmail author
  • Rebecca A. Schlaff
  • Samantha Deere
  • Jessica L. Walker
  • Brenna L. Dressler
  • Sarah F. Wagner
  • Ashley Boggs
  • Holly A. Simon



Nearly half of all women gain above gestational weight gain (GWG) recommendations. This study assessed the feasibility and efficacy of a pilot behavioral intervention on GWG and physical activity behaviors.


Women (n = 45) 14–20 weeks gestation enrolled in a behavioral intervention. Physicians ‘prescribed’ the intervention to low risk patients. The intervention included self-monitoring, support, and optional walking groups. Process evaluation measures regarding usage and acceptability of study components were obtained. Physical activity was objectively measured at baseline and 35 weeks. The percentage of participants with appropriate GWG was calculated. Control data was obtained from the same clinic where participants were recruited.


Overall, the intervention was acceptable to participants; attrition was low (6.7%), weekly contact was high (87%), and self-monitoring was high (Fitbit worn on 82% of intervention weeks; weekly weighing on 81%). Facebook (40% of weeks) and study website use (19%) was low, as was walking group attendance (7% attended a single group). Participants reported a lack of discussions about the study with their physician. Results showed no significant difference between intervention and control participants in the percentage who gained excess weight (p = 0.37). There was a significant decrease in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity in intervention participants (p < 0.0001).


Continued efforts for promoting physical activity and appropriate GWG are needed. Although acceptable, the intervention was not efficacious. Trainings for, or input from prenatal healthcare providers on how to best encourage and support patients’ engagement in healthy behaviors, such as PA, are warranted.


Behavioral intervention Public health Pregnancy Physical activity Physicians Exercise is Medicine Feasibility 



The authors would like to thank all of the undergraduate research assistants involved in this project and Valley OB/GYN (Saginaw, MI) for their assistance with participant recruitment.


This work was supported by a grant from the Allen Foundation and fellowships from the Ted & Ruth Braun Fellowship Program.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Meghan Baruth
    • 1
    Email author
  • Rebecca A. Schlaff
    • 1
  • Samantha Deere
    • 1
  • Jessica L. Walker
    • 2
  • Brenna L. Dressler
    • 3
  • Sarah F. Wagner
    • 4
  • Ashley Boggs
    • 5
  • Holly A. Simon
    • 6
  1. 1.Saginaw Valley State UniversityUniversity CenterUSA
  2. 2.Michigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA
  3. 3.University of Michigan, FlintFlintUSA
  4. 4.Bowling Green State UniversityBowling GreenUSA
  5. 5.Wake Forest UniversityWinston-SalemUSA
  6. 6.Life UniversityMariettaUSA

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