Beliefs and practices of First Nation women about weight gain during pregnancy and lactation: implications for women's health.


Many Cree women in northern Quebec experience excessive weight gain during pregnancy and retain the weight between pregnancies. This contributes to poor maternal-fetal outcomes and increased rates of obesity-related health problems. The purpose of this qualitative descriptive study was to explore (a) Cree women's perceptions of weight gain in pregnancy and weight loss following pregnancy, (b) the barriers that women face in maintaining a healthy body weight, and (c) the sociocultural context of health. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 30 women who had given birth within the preceding 12 months. Many women spoke of the negative health consequences of excessive weight gain, yet they found it difficult to lose weight due to individual constraints such as lack of time, cultural beliefs about diet while breastfeeding, and community constraints including lack of child care and lack of community programs for mothers.