Background: Eating healthy, being physically active and breastfeeding can greatly support a new mother's physiological and psychological health. However, within the United States, only 8.5% of women are meeting fruit and vegetable recommendations and only 35% of women are maintaining their pre-pregnancy physical activity after childbirth. Preliminary investigations suggest barriers such as lack of time and knowledge hinder a breastfeeding woman's ability to eat well and be physically active. The purpose of this study was to explore women's perceptions of healthy eating and physical activity while breastfeeding. Methods: This qualitative study utilized a 33-question semi-structured interview guide developed using the constructs of Self-Determination Theory. Data were analyzed via the process of immersion/crystallization. Results: A total of 24 breastfeeding women completed a roughly 40-min telephone interview. The mean age of the mother was 32 ±.88 and the mean age of the child being breastfed was 8.5 ± 1.4 months old. Findings demonstrate mothers see value in engaging in physical activity primarily for reasons related to self-care. In addition, breastfeeding women have a lack of information and support regarding healthy eating and physical activity while breastfeeding and many are receiving misinformation through resources such as Facebook support groups. Finally, mothers want more resources available that focus specifically on healthy behaviors while breastfeeding. Conclusion: Women need greater access to education and resources regarding healthy eating and physical activity while breastfeeding. Ideally, information and resources would come from an educated health professional such as their healthcare provider rather than an internet source.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Obstetrics and Gynecology