Publication Date

Spring 2019

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Rachel Tinius (Director), Jill Maples, Maire Blankenship, and Scott Lyons

Degree Program

School of Kinesiology, Recreation & Sport

Degree Type

Master of Science


PURPOSE: Pregnancy is a physically impactful process in a woman’s life. During this time, a woman will gain weight and research has shown that many women will retain some extra weight after delivery. Because of this, recovery in the postpartum period is pivotal to avoiding the implications of weight retention. The postpartum period is vastly understudied in both the research and medical communities and this gap between pregnancy and postpartum research needs to be bridged. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to investigate metabolic changes from pregnancy to postpartum and to study how factors such as sleep and breastfeeding can impact metabolic values in the postpartum period. METHODS: Women participated in a pregnancy study visit at 32-34 weeks of gestation (n = 25) and attended two subsequent visits at 4-6 months (n = 25) and 12-13 months postpartum (n = 16). At these visits, the women had a baseline blood draw and baseline metabolic measurements taken via indirect calorimetry. At the pregnancy visit, participants completed a demographic survey and a dietary questionnaire (DHQ-II). At the postpartum visits, they completed the same surveys, along with validated sleep and breastfeeding surveys. RESULTS: Absolute resting metabolic rate (RMR) was significantly higher during pregnancy than at 4-6 months postpartum and 12-13 months postpartum (p < 0.001 and p = 0.001, respectively). Accounting for body weight, relative RMR was significantly higher during pregnancy than at 4-6 months postpartum. With regard to sleep, women deemed to be “good sleepers” had a significantly higher relative RMR than those who were deemed “poor sleepers” (23.6 ± 2.5 vs 20.8 ± 2.3, p = 0.009). With regard to breastfeeding, women who breastfed had a relative RMR than the women who did not breastfeed (22.8 ± 2.6 vs 20.4 ± 2.3, p = 0.046). CONCLUSIONS: There are hypermetabolic changes that take place during pregnancy. These values seem to decrease into the postpartum period. Women who demonstrate an improved sleep quality and who opt to breastfeed tend to have improved metabolic responses. This could help combat the struggle with postpartum weight retention that some women face.


Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism | Maternal and Child Health | Maternal, Child Health and Neonatal Nursing | Obstetrics and Gynecology