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Pregnancy & postpartum lifestyle

Our aim is to optimise the health of women, their infant and families, through effective, sustainable and low-cost healthcare programs and initiatives, informed by the best available evidence.

Young, reproductive age women are a high-risk group for accelerated weight gain across adulthood, with related reproductive, metabolic and psychological complications.

Pregnancy presents a critical window for excessive weight gain and weight retention post-birth, driving future obesity development. During pregnancy approximately 50-60% of women gain above recommendations for gestational weight gain (GWG), increasing the risk of adverse outcomes, including miscarriage, preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, caesarean section and birth complications. Risks are independent of, yet exacerbated by, pre-existing obesity.

Broad reaching, accessible, low intensity and cost effective lifestyle interventions to promote healthy lifestyle behaviours and prevent escalating weight gain in young women in pregnancy, postpartum and beyond are vital and broadly prioritised. Underpinned by our effective weight gain prevention program, we work to design, implement, deliver and evaluate healthy lifestyle interventions that arrest and reverse the progressive increase in weight gain in young women.

Implementation & Impact

Our healthy lifestyle program demonstrates efficacy in trials of >6000 women to date. It is effective in differing populations (Culturally and Linguistically Diverse [CALD]) and across diverse settings (urban, rural, antenatal care, community), has received National recognition, is low-intensity, cost effective, optimises health behaviour and prevents weight gain, with greatest benefit in non-obese populations.

The significance of this program is validated on individual patient data (IPD) meta-analysis with associated reduction in adverse outcomes. Grounded in social cognitive theory, HeLPher is a non-prescriptive, self-management lifestyle intervention. It is underpinned by individual health priority identification, goal setting, self-efficacy, problem solving, action planning and self-monitoring for sustained behaviour change. How it is delivered (face-to-face, remotely, individually or group), who delivers it, where it is delivered, its frequency (number of sessions) and resources (written or digital) can be flexible and contextually adapted.

Current projects and partners
  • Impact Bump2Baby
  • Royal Hobart Hospital Foundation
  • Western Health
  • Monash Health 
  • Medibank Private Ltd
  • International women in pregnancy consortium (iWIP)
  • Global Health in Preconception and Pregnancy (HiPP) Alliance
  • Digital Health
  • Risk prediction
  • Gestational weight gain modelling
To deliver health impact, we use the following MCHRI platforms
  • Community and stakeholder partnership 
  • Clinical and public Health interventions & trials 
  • Big data and the Learning Health System. 
  • Implementation, healthcare improvement 
  • Health economics 
  • Research Translation & guidelines
  • Digital health