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Gestational Weight and Dietary Intake During Pregnancy: Perspectives of African American Women

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Objectives This investigation explored the participants’ perspective on weight, nutrition, and dietary habits during pregnancy. The data of interest were culled from a larger ethnographic research study designed to gather information and ideas about the socio-cultural, psychological, and behavioral influences on maternal health during pregnancy (N = 63). Methods My study focused on the six participants (including three teenagers) who delivered low birth weight and/or preterm babies and 13 participants aged ≤18 years (teenagers) who delivered normal weight babies. Data were analyzed utilizing qualitative methodology. Results Four of the participants who delivered low birth/weight preterm infants reported weight related concerns during pregnancy. These included: weight loss, lack of weight gain, and exceeding their expected weight gain. Frequently, the nutrition knowledge was based on miseducation, misconceptions, and/or ‘a grain of truth’ i.e. folk beliefs. Support group members had an influential role on participants’ dietary habits during pregnancy. Conclusion The next step appears to be more qualitative work, with health care providers, the Women Infants and Children Program (WIC) nutrition counselors, clinical dietetic professionals, and women who already have children, to explore strategies for improving diet quality as well as address the issue of inadequate and excessive weight gain during pregnancy.

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Correspondence to Mable Everette.

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Everette, M. Gestational Weight and Dietary Intake During Pregnancy: Perspectives of African American Women. Matern Child Health J 12, 718–724 (2008).

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