Obstetrics/GynecologyOriginal Article

Exercise During Pregnancy: The Role of Obstetric Providers

Linda E. May, MS, PhD; Richard R. Suminski, PhD, MPH; Emily R. Linklater, DO; Sara Jahnke, PhD; and Alan G. Glaros, PhD
Notes and Affiliations
Notes and Affiliations

Received: July 18, 2012

Accepted: March 22, 2013

Published: August 1, 2013

J Osteopath Med; 113(8): 612-619

Context: Obstetric providers are logical choices for conveying information about physical activity to their pregnant patients. However, research regarding obstetric providers counseling pregnant patients about physical activity is sparse.

Objectives: To investigate the association between obstetric providers discussing exercise with their pregnant patients and patients’ exercise behaviors and to explore factors related to obstetric providers discussing exercise and other health behaviors (tobacco use, alcohol use, and nutrition) with their patients.

Methods: We received completed surveys from 238 pregnant women and 31 obstetric providers at 12 obstetrician offices. The offices were located throughout the United States and were heterogeneous in regards to patient insurance coverage, number of patients treated per month, and percentage of patients with complications.

Results: Women who were “more careful about eating healthy” (odds ratio [OR], 3.1; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.2-8.0) and who discussed exercise with their obstetric provider (OR, 2.2; 95% CI, 1.1-4.3) were more likely to “maintain or increase exercise” during pregnancy than those who were not conscientious about their diets and those who did not discuss exercise with their obstetric provider, respectively. The odds of obstetric providers discussing exercise with pregnant patients increased 7-fold (OR, 7.1; 95% CI, 1.4-37.3) for each health behavior the obstetric provider discussed with the patient.

Conclusions: Patient discussions with obstetric providers about exercise and patient attention to eating habits are associated with exercising during pregnancy. A more multibehavioral approach by obstetric providers may improve the likelihood that patients exercise during pregnancy.

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