Move Baby Move: Physical activity ‘messaging’ needs of women with gestational diabetes mellitus: a qualitative study

Ms Anne Harrison1,2, Professor Nicholas Taylor2,3, Associate Professor Helena Frawley4,5, Professor Nora Shields2

1Werribee Mercy Hospital, Werribee, Australia, 2La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia, 3Eastern Health, Box Hill, Australia, 4Monash University, Frankston, Australia, 5Cabrini Health, Malvern, Australia


To identify the perceptions of women diagnosed with gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) to physical activity during pregnancy?

A qualitative study with phenomenology and interpretative description as theoretical frameworks.

Pregnant women, with GDM, aged 18 to 40 years were purposively recruited. Recruitment continued until data saturation. Semi-structured interviews were recorded, transcribed verbatim and returned to participants for checking. Qualitative data were analysed thematically by three researchers independently. Data were coded, compared and themes developed, discussed and defined. Emergent themes were sent to participants and peer-reviewed for confirmation.

Twenty-seven women participated who were of mean age 32 years (SD 3), mean gestation 30 weeks (SD 5), mean pre-pregnancy body mass index 26 kg/m2 (SD 5) and born in 10 different countries. The process of communicating information about physical activity (messaging) was the main theme to emerge. Sub-themes included receiving information about physical activity from credible sources (‘who’), knowing what type and how much physical activity was safe for their pregnancy (‘what’), receiving information at GDM diagnosis as this triggered women’s desire to be more physically active (‘when’), understanding the positive effects of physical activity on pregnancy outcome (‘why’), and identifying flexible, individually-tailored physical activity options (‘how’).

Significance of findings for Allied Health:
Women with GDM wanted clear, simple and GDM-specific messages from credible sources to feel confident and safe being physically active. Health professionals can support women with a GDM pregnancy with targeted physical activity messages.


Anne Harrison is a physiotherapist with over 30 year’s clinical experience including 20 years of health management experience. She is currently manager of physiotherapy services at Werribee Mercy Hospital in Melbourne. She has interests in women’s health and translating research into practice as well as health service planning. Anne’s present research is investigating physical activity participation for women diagnosed with GDM and has several publications in this area. Her qualifications include a Bachelor of Applied Science in Physiotherapy, a Master of Health Administration and she is currently a Professional Doctoral candidate.