Date of Award

8-2015

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Major

Child and Family Studies

Major Professor

Hillary N. Fouts

Committee Members

Dawn P. Coe, Katie F. Kavanagh, Priscilla W. Blanton

Abstract

Women who decide to engage in prenatal physical activity are giving themselves, and their child, an advantage over those who are not physically active during pregnancy; not only are there significant health benefits for mothers, but also there are great benefits for the unborn child. Breastfeeding is another important decision parents make that can impact the future health of their children. There has been extensive research on the benefits of both prenatal physical activity and breastfeeding, but the connection between the two is unclear. The purpose of this grounded theory study was to identify potential connections between factors influencing women’s decisions to engage in prenatal physical activity and breastfeeding among mothers in a medium sized city in Tennessee. Responses from mothers revealed numerous themes related to both prenatal physical activity and breastfeeding. Among these themes, mothers spoke most frequently about the benefits involved with prenatal physical activity and breastfeeding for both the mother and infant. Connections between prenatal physical activity and breastfeeding were identified through several themes including: healthy lifestyles, benefits associated with prenatal physical activity and breastfeeding, knowledge and research evidence, and the naturalness of prenatal physical activity and breastfeeding. An over-arching theme that captured the women’s collective experience and stories was determination.

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