Barriers and Facilitators for Physical Activity in Pregnancy and Post- Partum? Findings from a Qualitative Study to Inform the Design of an Intervention for Active Women

Author(s): Murali K P Subramanian, Peter Van der Graaf, Louise Hayes, Rosemary Dawson, Kunj Sachdeva, Liane Azevedo

Objectives: The benefits of physical activity during and after pregnancy are well established. However, activity levels decline substantially in both inactive and active women. There is limited information on the barriers and facilitators for physical activity participation in active women, which is vital for the development of tailored interventions. The primary aim of this study is to identify the barriers and facilitators for physical activity (PA) in already active women during pregnancy and postpartum. We also explore their views on, and requirements for, the development of an intervention to support maintenance of or increase in physical activity.

Methods: Five focus groups, with a total of 19 participants, were conducted using a topic guide structured around the study objectives. Transcripts were analysed using a thematic analysis approach.

Results: Twenty-two codes were generated and grouped into 8 themes: (1) cognizant of PA benefits, (2) sources of advice, (3) reasons to be active during pregnancy, (4) reasons for reducing PA levels during pregnancy, (5) barriers to PA during and after pregnancy, (6) facilitators of PA during and after pregnancy, (7) ideal PA intervention, and (8) evaluation support.

Conclusion: Already active women show enthusiasm for continuing PA during and after pregnancy. However, factors such as pregnancy- related body changes, childcare and lack of targeted activities deter participation in PA. A new PA programme with social and group elements, including both familiar and new activities, and providing „satisfaction and fun? should be developed for previously active pregnant and postpartum women to help increase or maintain PA levels

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