Lifestyle Factors Related to Postpartum Weight Gain and Body Image in Bottle- and Breastfeeding Women

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Abstract

Objective:

To explore the relationship of lifestyle variables to postpartum weight gain and body image attitudes of bottle- and breastfeeding women.

Design:

Mail survey of new mothers at approximately 4 months postpartum.

Setting:

Southwestern community.

Participants:

One hundred one bottle-feeding women (69% white, 20% Hispanic, 11% other) and 106 breastfeeding women (76% white, 19% Hispanic, 5% other) without diabetes. Bottle- and breastfeeding women did not differ on gestational weight gain or weight gain sustained postpartum.

Main Outcome Measures:

Postpartum weight gain (relative to prepregnancy weight) and body image attitudes.

Results:

Feeding method (breast or bottle) was not associated with postpartum weight gain in the sample as a whole. Bottle-feeding mothers with higher postpartum gains exercised less, had higher fat intake habits, and were more dissatisfied with body image than mothers with lower gains. Breastfeeding mothers with higher and lower gains did not differ on any lifestyle factors. Overall lifestyle and psychologic skill in managing emotions were related negatively to postpartum body image dissatisfaction in both groups of women.

Conclusions:

Breastfeeding women did not differ from bottle-feeding women in sustained postpartum weight gain. In bottle-feeding women, lifestyle factors were associated with levels of weight gain. Lifestyle-focused programs for weight management would potentially benefit these women.

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