ObjectivesPregnancy may provide a ‘teachable moment’ for positive health behaviour change, as a time when women are both motivated towards health and in regular contact with health care professionals. This study aimed to investigate whether women's experiences of pregnancy indicate that they would be receptive to behaviour change during this period.DesignQualitative interview study.MethodsUsing interpretative phenomenological analysis, this study details how seven women made decisions about their physical activity and dietary behaviour during their first pregnancy.ResultsTwo women had required fertility treatment to conceive. Their behaviour was driven by anxiety and a drive to minimize potential risks to the pregnancy. This included detailed information seeking and strict adherence to diet and physical activity recommendations. However, the majority of women described behaviour change as ‘automatic’, adopting a new lifestyle immediately upon discovering their pregnancy. Diet and physical activity were influenced by what these women perceived to be normal or acceptable during pregnancy (largely based on observations of others) and internal drivers, including bodily signals and a desire to retain some of their pre-pregnancy self-identity. More reasoned assessments regarding benefits for them and their baby were less prevalent and influential.ConclusionsFindings suggest that for women who conceived relatively easily, diet and physical activity behaviour during pregnancy is primarily based upon a combination of automatic judgements, physical sensations, and perceptions of what pregnant women are supposed to do. Health professionals and other credible sources appear to exert less influence. As such, pregnancy alone may not create a ‘teachable moment’.This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Atkinson, L, Shaw, RL & French, DP 2016, 'Is pregnancy a teachable moment for diet and physical activity behaviour change? An interpretative phenomenological analysis of the experiences of women during their first pregnancy'
Bibliographical noteDue to publisher policy, the full text is not available on the repository until the 11th of June 2017. British Journal of Health Psychology, vol 21, no. 4, pp. 842–858., which has been published in final form at https://dx.doi.org/10.1111/bjhp.12200. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.
- qualitative research
- physical activity
- behaviour change