American Journal of Medical and Clinical Sciences. 2022; 7(4):(73-108)


Impact of Gestational Period and Weight on Individual, Task and Environmental Constraints on Balance in Pregnant Women

Abigayle E. Fontaine, Eryk P. Przysucha and Taryn Klarner

Abstract
Pregnancy coincides with sensory, perceptual and motor changes that may affect a person’s ability to perform basic activities of daily living (ADLs). Previous research suggested that weight and gestational age (trimester) may affect the way women negotiate balance related tasks, but these issues require further analysis. This study utilized Newell’s Model of Constraints as a framework to shape a questionnaire investigating an individual’s ability to perform different task-related activities across various constraints. Additionally, this study examined whether variables such as pre-pregnancy weight (under vs. over 155 pounds) and trimester (before vs. after 26 weeks) had an impact on their ability to perform different tasks requiring balance.

Twenty pregnant or postpartum women (M = 29.7 years; SD = 3.6) were recruited and asked to complete a 15 item online survey exploring their abilities to complete a variety of daily tasks involving balance. In addition, open-ended questions were posed to gain qualitative insights into their experiences. A series of independent sample t-tests showed predominantly no statistical difference between the levels of the variables manipulated. At the descriptive level the women indicated that they were relatively comfortable performing the different tasks. However, the qualitative responses suggested that although they were capable, it was clear that they expended a substantial amount of energy to avoid falling, resulting in fatigue and soreness, and they experienced overall mental anguish and feelings of being overwhelmed. Overall, it was surprising that weight and gestational age, which intuitively should have impact, did not have a more pronounced effect on the women’s confidence in performing ADLs, nevertheless, qualitative responses confirmed the challenging effects of pregnancy on balance control.
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