Many women going through the major life transition of pregnancy experience decreases in physical activity behaviour, which may compromise maternal and infant health and wellbeing. Although research suggests that the social environment plays a large role in influencing women’s physical activity behaviour, little is known about the association between societal attitudes and physical activity behaviour during the course of pregnancy. Through a qualitative longitudinal study, we explored women’s physical activity experiences throughout pregnancy and how these were formed, supported and/or opposed by their social environment. This research included telephone interviews with 30 pregnant participants, recruited via a regional public hospital. Using a feminist standpoint analysis incorporating modern dialectics, three major tensions were identified, reflecting dominant societal discourses around physical activity and pregnancy: (1) engaging in physical activity and keeping the baby safe, (2) engaging in physical activity and obtaining social approval and (3) listening to oneself and to others. These findings present previously unrecognised opportunities for developing tailored and effective physical activity interventions among pregnant women.
Culture, Health and Sexuality / Vol. 18, No. 8, pp.921-935