An Exploration of Health Concerns & Health-Promotion Behaviors in Pregnant Women Over Age 35

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Abstract

Purpose

To explore the specific health concerns and health-promotion behaviors of childbearing women 35 years of age or older.

Study Design and Methods

Semistructured interviews with women (n = 50) ages ≥35 in their third trimester of pregnancy. Interviews lasted approximately 1 hour, were conducted by two nursing faculty, and were scheduled to accommodate participant needs. Process recording was used to document participant responses. Verbatim statements were recorded, and subjects were redirected to clarify responses when necessary. Content analysis and coding were completed by an independent researcher, based upon techniques derived from Miles and Huberman (1994). Data reduction was accomplished by the identification of categories of responses that described the participants’ meaning.

Results

Study participants reported concerns reflecting both fetal well-being and maternal health-related issues. The majority of childbearing women (86%) reported engaging in multiple health-promotion behaviors focusing on daily nutritional intake, lifestyle activities, and rest patterns. Participants reported conscientious decisions to eliminate substances recognized as harmful, and to alter exercise, employment, or daily responsibilities to accommodate physical changes during pregnancy. Participants were “proactive healthcare seekers,” accessing information from a variety of sources and seeking services to meet their individualized needs.

Clinical Implications

The multitude and frequency of health-promotion behaviors adopted by those ≥35 years of age during pregnancy is indicative of this group’s ability to independently initiate change, and exceeds the percentages previously reported. The nurse can be influential in supporting lifestyle modifications adopted during the childbearing period as permanent health-promotion behaviors.

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