Experiences of counselling on physical activity during pregnancy Gestational diabetes mellitus : screening and pregnancy outcomes
Abstract: BackgroundOverweight and obesity are global health problems with several adverse health effects that threaten public health. In Sweden, almost four of ten pregnant women are overweight or obese, conditions that are associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes, including gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM), a metabolic disorder that complicates pregnancy. Globally, physical inactivity is the fourth leading risk factor for mortality. The recommendation for physical activity (i.e., ≥150 minutes/week) issued by the Professional Associations for Physical Activity and the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare is in line with the recommendations by the WHO. Physical activity during pregnancy is generally safe and beneficial for both the pregnant woman and her fetus and can maintain or improve fitness and may further improve pregnancy outcomes. However, pregnant women tend to lower their physical activity when entering pregnancy. Midwives working in antenatal care (ANC) in Sweden play a prominent role in promoting a healthy lifestyle through counselling pregnant women on lifestyle, including physical activity during pregnancy. Individual counselling on physical activity encourages pregnant women to maintain their pre-pregnant leisure time physical activity throughout their pregnancy.AimsThis thesis has three main aims. First, this thesis investigated guidelines for screening of GDM, risk factors, and pregnancy outcomes in relation to GDM. Second, it investigated physical activity during pregnancy and pregnancy outcomes. Third, it explored midwives’ and pregnant women’s experiences with counselling that addressed physical activity during pregnancy.MethodsStudy I and III are cross-sectional studies using data from the Maternal Health Care Register and the Salut Register. A total of 184,183 pregnant women were included in Study I (2011-2012) and 3,868 in Study III (2011-2012). Several statistical analyses were used: two-independent samples t-test, Pearson’s Chi-Square test, and univariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses. Study II and IV are qualitative studies applying qualitative content analysis. Study II included 41 midwives who were interviewed in eight focus group discussions (FGD). Study IV included 14 pregnant women who participated in individual in-depth interviews.Main findingsThere was no consensus in Sweden regarding clinical guidelines for screening regimes or 2-hour cut-off value for diagnosis of GDM from 2011 through 2012. Four screening regimes were applied in Sweden during this time period: A) universal screening with a 2-hour cut-off value of 10.0 mmol/L; B) selective screening with a 2-hour cut-off value of 8.9 mmol/L; C) selective screening with a 2-hourcut-off value of 10.0 mmol/L; and D) selective screening with a 2-hour cut-off value of 12.2 mmol/L. The highest prevalence of GDM was found where selective screening was applied with a 2-hour cut-off value of 8.9 mmol/L. Unemployment, low educational level, and non-Nordic origin were all risk factors for GDM, and a BMI ≥30 kg/m2 almost four-doubled the risk for GDM compared to pregnant women with BMI <30 kg/m2. Increasing OGTT-values were associated with increasing risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes (Paper I). Midwives in antenatal care perceived counselling as both challenging and as an opportunity to promote a healthy lifestyle for pregnant women. As the theme “An on-going individual adjustment” revealed, the midwives tried to adjust their counselling to each pregnant woman’s individual needs. Counselling pregnant women on physical activity was seen as complex and ambiguous with a risk of being rejected by the women if the advice was delivered too straightforward. Instead, the midwives were “tiptoeing” around the sensitive topics (Paper II). Almost half of pregnant women reported that they achieved the recommended level of physical activity duringpregnancy (i.e., ≥150 minutes/week). These pregnant women were characterized by lower BMI, higher educational level, and very good or good self-rated health (SRH) compared to the pregnant women who did not achieve the recommended level (Paper III). Pregnant women reported a desire for individual counselling on physical activity during pregnancy. The theme that emerged was “Longing for fulfilment of individual needs and expectations”, which reflected the wish that midwives’ counselling on physical activity should be based on pregnant women’s individual needs instead of merely providing general advice. Some participants reported receiving encouragement and support, but others believed they were provided insufficient counselling on physical activity and that the midwife had her own agenda focusing mostly on medical surveillance (Paper IV).ConclusionsNo consensus regarding clinical guidelines and diagnostic criterion for GDM existed in Sweden during 2011 to 2012. Obesity was a strong risk factor for development of GDM, and low socio-economic status and non-Nordic origin were also demonstrated as significant risk factors. Positively, almost half of the pregnant women reached the recommended level of physical activity during pregnancy. Participants fulfilling the recommendation were characterized by lower BMI, higher education, and very good or good self-rated health. Midwives strived to adjust and individualize their counselling on physical activity; however, some of the pregnant women could experience the counselling on physical activity being too general. Clearly, healthcare professionals should encourage fertile and pregnant women to be physically active, especially overweight and obese pregnant women who report low levels of physical activity, in order to improve overall health in this population.
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