Aim: To explore the perceptions of women diagnosed with gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) to physical activity during pregnancy.
Design: A qualitative study, using Interpretative Description as the theoretical framework, was completed.
Method: Pregnant women diagnosed with GDM were recruited based on purposive sampling. The inclusion criteria were women diagnosed with GDM, aged 18 to 40 years, experiencing an uncomplicated singleton pregnancy and able to communicate in English. Recruitment continued until data saturation was achieved. Semi-structured interviews were used to collect data. Interviews were recorded, transcribed verbatim and returned to participants for member checking. Qualitative data were analysed thematically using an inductive method by three researchers independently. Data coding was iterative; data were coded, compared and themes developed, discussed and defined. Emergent themes were sent to participants and peer-reviewed for validation. Participant demographic data were descriptively analysed.
Results: Twenty seven women, mean age 32 years (± 3), mean gestation 30 weeks (± 5), mean pre-pregnancy BMI 26 kg / m2 (± 5) and born in 10 different countries, participated. The process of communicating information about physical activity (messaging) was the main theme that emerged. Subthemes included ‘who’ (information about physical activity in pregnancy needed to be from credible sources), ‘what’ (what type and how much physical activity was safe and relevant for their GDM pregnancy), ‘when’ (at GDM diagnosis which triggered women's desire to be more physically active), ‘why’, (positive effects of physical activity on pregnancy outcomes was a key motivator), and ‘how’, (flexible, convenient, individually-tailored physical activity options).
Conclusion: Women diagnosed with GDM expressed the need for messaging of information about physical activity to be, relevant to their GDM pregnancy so they felt confident and safe, directly related to pregnancy outcomes for a GDM pregnancy, delivered by a credible source and flexible so it could be tailored to fit in with their busy lifestyles.