Despite increasing interest in the impact of sedentary behaviour on health, little is known about sedentary behaviour during pregnancy. Given the association between sedentary behaviour and risk of type 2 diabetes, it is particularly important to understand the prevalence and correlates of sedentary behaviour during pregnancy in women at risk of gestational diabetes. The aims of this mixed methods study were to 1) quantify objectively measured sedentary time during pregnancy in women at risk of gestational diabetes, 2) quantitatively examine the correlates of objectively measured sedentary time, and 3) explore the place of sedentary behavior and physical activity in these pregnant women’s lives using qualitative data.Methods
Pregnant women (n=192) recruited from two hospitals in the North East of England who had a risk factor for gestational diabetes continuously wore activPAL accelerometers for seven days during the second trimester, and a subsample of participants (n=18) took part in a semi-structured interview in the third trimester. Multiple linear regression analyses were applied to accelerometry data and thematic analysis was conducted with interview data using NVivo11.Results
On average, women spent 9.57 hours per day (SD=1.62) engaged in sedentary behaviour, which accounted for 71.7% of waking hours. In multivariate linear regression models, the only statistically significant predictor of sedentary time was Index of Multiple Deprivation. Time spent sedentary was 9.29 hours (95% CI 9.00 to 9.57) for the most deprived tertile, 10.26 hours (95% CI 9.74 to 10.78) for the middle tertile, and 9.81 hours (95% CI 9.29 to 10.33) for the least deprived tertile. The key overarching theme that emerged from the interview data was that there was a social expectation that the participants should slow down and sit down simply due to their pregnancy status, which often conflicted with participants’ own perspectives that their roles in everyday life were incompatible with ‘sitting around.’Conclusion
These findings indicate that sedentary time during pregnancy may be socially patterned such that those residing in the most deprived areas spend significantly less time sedentary than those in less deprived areas. Furthermore, the reported strong social expectation for pregnant women to slow down and halt their everyday lives is a challenge for interventions to reduce sedentary time and increase physical activity during pregnancy.