Background: Postpartum weight retention is a significant contributor to weight gain and obesity in reproductive-aged women. Achieving and maintaining a healthy lifestyle during this period can be challenging. Understanding the facilitators and barriers to this is critical in supporting healthy lifestyle behaviours in postpartum women.
Objective: This study aimed to synthesise the barriers and facilitators to engaging in a healthy lifestyle during the first two years postpartum using the Capability, Opportunity, Motivation and Behaviour (COM-B) model and to develop intervention strategies using the Behaviour Change Wheel (BCW).
Design: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with women who have given birth within the last two years to explore facilitators and barriers to engaging in a healthy lifestyle. Thematic analysis were conducted using an open coding approach. The main themes were subsequently mapped to the COM-B domains. Intervention strategies were developed to address these themes using the BCW.
Participants/Setting: 21 women after birth (≤2 years) and currently living with their child were recruited through convenience and snowball sampling.
Results: According to COM-B framework, women after birth face barriers and facilitators within capability (sleep deprivation and mental exhaustion, ability to organise and plan), opportunity (influence and support of friends, partners and extended families) and motivation (struggle with prioritising self, exercise to cope with stress). Corresponding strategies mapped from BCW include low intensity interventions focussing on behaviour regulation and sleep to increase capability; engaging partners and strengthening peer support in health to create opportunity and increasing risk perception and highlighting the mental benefits of exercise to inspire motivation.
Conclusion: This study summarised key barriers and facilitators in terms of capability, opportunity and motivation for healthy lifestyle behaviours in postpartum women. Our findings suggest that postpartum lifestyle interventions should focus on organisational and planning skills, involve partners, address infant and women’s sleep issues and increase risk perception.