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J Holist Nurs. 1997 Dec;15(4):389-405.

Weight and weight-related distress after childbirth: relationships to stress, social support, and depressive symptoms.

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  • 1University of Texas at Austin-School of Nursing, USA.


The aim of this study was to explore whether women's psychosocial context was related to weight status 1 year after childbirth. A survey sample of 149 women provided data on life-event stress, social support, and depressive symptoms; and three weight variables: body mass index, weight gain, and weight-related distress. Of the women, 32 (22%) reported gains of > or = 5 kg and 50 (34%) met the criterion for high depressive symptoms. Low social support, low income, and high depressive symptoms were related to higher weight gain. Women with gains > or = 5 kg reported high depressive symptoms (53% vs. 28%) more often than women with lesser gains. Women who reported lowered self-esteem because of weight also had higher depressive symptoms, body mass indexes, and weight gains than women with increased or unaffected self-esteem. This study points to the importance of incorporating women's psychosocial context into counseling about weight management after childbirth.

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