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Association of weight discrimination during pregnancy and postpartum with maternal postpartum health.

Abstract

Objective

Weight stigma adversely affects the health of the general population, but almost no studies have examined possible negative consequences of weight stigma in the context of pregnancy. The present study tested whether experiencing weight stigma in pregnancy is inversely related to mental and physical health in mothers during the first postpartum year.

Method

This study examined associations between weight-related experiences of discrimination in everyday life, measured at 1 month after the birth of a child, and physical and mental health outcomes measured concurrently and at 6 months and 1 year postpartum in a sample of 214 women in the Community Child Health Network study. Outcomes of interest were postpartum depressive symptoms, pregnancy weight gain, postpartum weight retention, and two biomarkers of maternal stress (blood pressure and salivary cortisol).

Results

After adjusting for covariates including race/ethnicity and prepregnancy body mass index, weight-related everyday discrimination was associated with greater postpartum depressive symptoms at 1 month postpartum. Weight-related everyday discrimination was also associated with greater pregnancy weight gain and greater weight gain in excess of the recommendations set by the Institute of Medicine. Additionally, weight-related discrimination prospectively predicted greater postpartum depressive symptoms and weight retention at 1 year postpartum. Weight-related everyday discrimination was not associated with blood pressure or cortisol.

Conclusions

These findings offer novel evidence that experiencing weight stigma during pregnancy and in the early postpartum period is prospectively associated with adverse mental and physical health outcomes for women after birth, implicating weight stigma as a potential maternal health threat. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).

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