The Role of Parity in Gestational Weight Gain and Postpartum Weight Retention

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Objectives: Parity, excessive gestational weight gain (GWG), and postpartum weight retention (PPWR) have been identified as risk factors for maternal obesity. The aim of this study was to explore whether GWG and PPWR at 6 and 12 months after birth differed for primiparous and multiparous Australian women. Methods: One hundred thirty-eight Australian women provided weight measures in early to mid pregnancy (M = 16.7 weeks, SD = 2.3), late pregnancy (M = 37.7 weeks, SD = 2.4), 6 months postpartum (M = 6.1 months, SD = 1.4), and 12 months postpartum (M = 12.6 months, SD = 0.7). Height, parity, and demographic information were also collected. Prepregnancy body mass index (BMI), total GWG, incidence of excessive GWG, as well as change in BMI and BMI category from prepregnancy to 6 and 12 months postpartum were computed. Differences between primiparous and multiparous women were compared using analysis of covariance (controlling for age, prepregnancy BMI, and GWG) and χ2 test of independence. Results: Seventy women (50.7%) were primiparous and 68 women (49.3%) were multiparous. Primiparous women were more likely to retain weight at 12 months postpartum than multiparous women (p = .021; Cohen's d = .24). This difference was not reflected when analyzing change in BMI categories from prepregnancy to the postpartum. Conclusions: Evidence for the role of parity in PPWR is inconclusive. Future research should consider the temporal development of PPWR in primiparous and multiparous women, leading to tailored care in the postpartum period to help women return to a healthy prepregnancy weight.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-129
Number of pages7
JournalWomen's Health Issues
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016
Externally publishedYes

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