Exploring Healthy Eating and Exercise Behaviors Among Low-Income Breastfeeding Mothers. Academic Article uri icon


  • BACKGROUND:: Postpartum weight retention is often a significant contributor to overweight and obesity. Lactation is typically not sufficient for mothers to return to pre-pregnancy weight. Modifiable health behaviors (e.g., healthy eating and exercise) are important for postpartum weight loss; however, engagement among mothers, especially those who are resource-limited, is low. A deeper understanding of low-income breastfeeding mothers' healthy-eating and exercise experience, a population that may have unique motivators for health-behavior change, may facilitate creation of effective intervention strategies for these women. RESEARCH AIM:: To describe the healthy-eating and exercise experiences of low-income postpartum women who choose to breastfeed. METHODS:: Focus group discussions were conducted with low-income mothers ( N = 21) who breastfed and had a child who was 3 years old or younger. Transcript analysis employed integrated grounded analysis using both a priori codes informed by the theory of planned behavior and grounded codes. RESULTS:: Three major themes were identified from five focus groups: (a) Mothers were unable to focus on their own diet and exercise due to preoccupation with infant needs and more perceived barriers than facilitators; (b) mothers became motivated to eat healthfully if it benefited the infant; and (c) mothers did not seek out information on maternal nutrition or exercise but used the Internet for infant-health information and health professionals for breastfeeding information. CONCLUSION:: Low-income breastfeeding mothers may be more receptive to nutrition education or interventions that focus on the mother-infant dyad rather than solely on maternal health.

published proceedings

  • J Hum Lact

altmetric score

  • 4.7

author list (cited authors)

  • MacMillan Uribe, A. L., & Olson, B. H.

citation count

  • 19

complete list of authors

  • MacMillan Uribe, Alexandra L||Olson, Beth H

publication date

  • February 2019