Perspect Nurs Sci.  2016 Oct;13(2):88-95. 10.16952/pns.2016.13.2.88.

Body Weight Changes and Lifestyle in Women within 1 year after Childbirth

  • 1Professor, College of Nursing · The Research Institute of Nursing Science, Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea.
  • 2Graduate Student, College of Nursing, Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea.


Gestational weight gain and prepregnancy body weight are important factors of childbirth outcomes, which further cause obesity, metabolic diseases, or psychological problems later in women’s lives. Changes in diet, westernized lifestyle, traditional postpartum care, and childbirth at older age are thought to be threats to proper weight management in Korean women of reproductive age. Public health and antenatal care need to focus on the proper body weight management of women by carefully planning pregnancy to postpartum periods. PURPOSE: This study explored the body weight changes from pregnancy to postpartum and the related characteristics in women within 12 months after childbirth.
A cross-sectional, retrospective study was conducted with 102 Korean women within 12 months after childbirth. Data were collected using an online survey system, and a structured questionnaire available for electronic self-administration was modified to include demographics, obstetrical history, and body weight at 6 time points. The International Physical Activity Questionnaire and Eating Habit Measurement instruments were also used in data collection. A professional survey agency recruited the participants, and data were automatically saved and then analyzed. Results: The average age of the participants was 33.8 years, 48% were housewives and were well-educated. Seventy-two percent of the participants were primiparas and 82% had breastfed their babies. The body mass index (BMI) ranged from 17.3 to 27.8, indicating that 21.5% of the participants were overweight or obese. The mean gestational weight gain was 11.8 kg, and weight loss was apparent during the first 3 months postpartum. The mean decline in weight was 3.4 kg at one year after childbirth. Women wanted to lose 5.6 kg (range: 3~20 kg), however 44% of them reported that they had not engaged in any weight control efforts. Further, 72% of them reported having engaged in a low level of physical activity. Body weight was not associated with women’s characteristics, physical activity score, and diet.
Women’s awareness of gestational weight gain, lifestyle modification, and the risk of prolonged weight retention should be promoted through the antenatal and women’s healthcare systems. As pregnancy and childbirth are critical events that affect women’s health, integrative education to ensure healthy transition to life after delivery is required.


Body weight; Lifestyle; Women; Childbirth
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