Pregnancy is a time of significant physiological and physical change for women. In particular, it is a time at which many women are at risk of gaining excessive weight. We describe the rationale and methods of the Health in Pregnancy and Post-birth (HIPP) Study, a study which aims primarily to determine the effectiveness of a specialized health coaching (HC) intervention during pregnancy, compared to education alone, in preventing excessive gestational weight gain and postpartum weight retention 12 months post birth. A secondary aim of this study is to evaluate the mechanisms by which our HC intervention impacts on weight management both during pregnancy and post birth.
The randomized controlled trial will be conducted with 220 women who have a BMI > 18.5 (American IOM cut-off for normal weight), are 18 years of age or older, English speaking, no history of disordered eating or diabetes and are less than 18 weeks gestation at recruitment. Women will be randomly allocated to either a specialized HC intervention group or an Education Alone group. Our specialized HC intervention has two components: (1) one-on-one sessions with a Health Coach, and (2) two by two hour educational group sessions led by a Health Coach. Women in the Education Alone group will receive two by two hour educational group sessions with no HC components. Body Mass Index, waist circumference, and psychological factors including motivation, readiness to change, symptoms of depression and anxiety, and body dissatisfaction will be assessed at baseline (14-16 weeks gestation), and again at follow-up: 32 weeks gestation, 6 weeks, 6 months and 12 months postpartum.
Our study responds to the urgent need to design effective interventions in pregnancy to prevent excessive gestational weight gain and postpartum weight retention. Our pregnancy HC intervention is novel and innovative and has been designed to be easily adopted by health professionals who work with pregnant women, such as obstetricians, midwives, allied health professionals and health psychologists.
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12611000331932
Keywords: Pregnancy, Postpartum, Gestational weight gain, Weight retention, Health coaching, Randomized controlled trial