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The 13th World Conference on Tobacco OR Health

Building capacity for a tobacco-free world

July 12-15, 2006, Washington, DC, USA

Thursday, July 13, 2006 - 12:00 PM

The role of physical activity in preventing postpartum smoking relapse

Romilla Gupta, MA and Donna Howard, M.Ed. Disease Prevention - Planning and Policy Unit, Toronto Public Health, 272 Victoria Street, Suite 202, Toronto, ON M5B 1W2, Canada

Objective: To understand the role that physical activity plays in preventing smoking relapse during the postpartum period. Data indicates that more than 65% of pregnant women stop smoking early on in their pregnancy. However, despite a prolonged period of abstinence from cigarette smoking, about 60% of these women relapse before their infant is six months of age. This study aimed to: (1) Identify the factors contributing to maternal postpartum smoking relapse, (2) Determine women's values regarding physical activity during the postpartum period and (3) Determine the barriers to engaging in physical activity during the postpartum period.

Methods: Eight focus-group interviews were conducted with 51 new mothers and analyzed for common themes. All participants had smoked prior to becoming pregnant and quit smoking during their pregnancy. Thirty-one of these participants were non-relapsers while twenty participants had resumed smoking after birth of their baby. A structured interview guide and prompts were developed to address 2 topical areas: Factors related to smoking behavior and attitudes towards physical activity.

Results: The focus group analysis is descriptive and summarizes how 51 women expressed their interpretation, perceptions and meanings about smoking cessation and relapse during the postpartum period. The data is being used to inform the development of future program interventions aimed at preventing smoking relapse among postpartum women. The findings highlight the need for future smoking cessation and postpartum relapse prevention interventions targeted at pregnant women to deal with issues of stress and weight management through incorporation of physical activity interventions.