Pregnancy is a time when weight gain is expected, yet studies show that nearly half of all women in the US gain an amount in excess of recommended guidelines. Women who are already overweight or obese are two to three times more likely to gain more than is recommended. This is why a new pilot study on mindful eating is being conducted at UVa. It is led by University of Virginia School of Nursing professors Jeanne Alhusen and Anna Maria Siega-Riz. Sixty pregnant women with increased BMI (20 at UVA and 40 at INOVA, in Washington, D.C.) who are less than 14 weeks pregnant will be enrolled in the study. Half will be randomly assigned to the group receiving the mindful eating intervention, called MB-PEAPOD (Mindfulness-Based Pregnancy Eating Awareness Promoting Optimal Development), which lasts ten weeks. The first MB-PEAPOD group has begun meeting weekly and is being co-led by Susanna Williams, a faculty member in the UVa Mindfulness Center and School of Nursing. The participants are learning about mindful eating as well as meditation techniques that they can practice every day. Their progress will be compared against 10 other pregnant women who will not receive the intervention.
The researchers will be collecting data on weight gain and stress from both the intervention and usual care groups at three junctures: the study’s outset; 34 to 35 weeks gestation; and six weeks after delivery. Data collection will occur and coincide with routine obstetric/gynecological care appointments, and the team will also examine the effect of MB-PEAPOD on inflammatory markers of stress through blood tests.
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