The associations of maternal weight change with breastfeeding, diet and physical activity during the postpartum period


Objective: To determine the association between breastfeeding practices, diet and physical activity and maternal postpartum weight.

Methods: This was a secondary data analysis of a randomized community trial on beneficiaries of the Programa de Desarrollo Humano Oportunidades, recently renamed Prospera (n = 314 pregnant women), without any diseases that could affect body weight. Generalized estimating equations were used to determine the association between postpartum weight change and changes in diet, physical activity and type of breastfeeding. Results The mean postpartum weight change from the first to the third month was 0.6 ± 2.2 kg. Women who breastfed exclusively for 3 months had a 4.1 (SE = 1.9) kg weight reduction in comparison with women who did not provide exclusive breastfeeding or who discontinued breastfeeding before 3 months (p = 0.04). There was no association between postpartum weight change and physical activity (p = 0.24) or energy intake (p = 0.06).

Conclusions: Exclusive breastfeeding was associated with maternal postpartum weight reduction. These results reinforce the World Health Organization recommendation of exclusive breastfeeding during the first 6 months of life in order to reduce the risk of weight retention or weight gain in postpartum women. It has been well established that exclusive breastfeeding is beneficial for both infants and mothers, but promoting breastfeeding as a strategy to promote postpartum weight loss is of paramount importance, especially in countries like Mexico where excessive weight in women of reproductive age is a public health problem.

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