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Women's Perspectives on Falls and Fall Prevention During Pregnancy

Brewin, Dorothy CNM, PhD; Nannini, Angela PhD, FNP-C, FAANP

MCN: The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing: September/October 2014 - Volume 39 - Issue 5 - p 300–305
doi: 10.1097/NMC.0000000000000064

Background: Falls are the leading cause of unintentional injury in women. During pregnancy, even a minor fall can result in adverse consequences. Evidence to inform effective and developmentally appropriate pregnancy fall prevention programs is lacking. Early research on pregnancy fall prevention suggests that exercise may reduce falls. However, acceptability and effectiveness of pregnancy fall prevention programs are untested.

Purpose: To better understand postpartum women's perspective and preferences on fall prevention strategies during pregnancy to formulate an intervention.

Methods: Focus groups and individual interviews were conducted with 31 postpartum women using descriptive qualitative methodology. Discussion of falls during pregnancy and fall prevention strategies was guided by a focus group protocol and enhanced by 1- to 3-minute videos on proposed interventions. Focus groups were audio recorded, transcribed, and analyzed using NVivo 10 software.Results:Emerging themes were environmental circumstances and physical changes of pregnancy leading to a fall, prevention strategies, barriers, safety concerns, and marketing a fall prevention program. Wet surfaces and inappropriate footwear commonly contributed to falls. Women preferred direct provider counseling and programs including yoga and Pilates.

Implications: Fall prevention strategies tailored to pregnant women are needed. Perspectives of postpartum women support fall prevention through provider counseling and individual or supervised exercise programs.

Pregnant women are at increased risk for falls. This study focuses on women's perceptions of falls risk and their preferences for fall prevention strategies.

Dorothy Brewin is an Assistant Professor, University of Massachusetts Lowell, Lowell, MA. She can be reached via e-mail at

Angela Nannini is an Associate Professor, University of Massachusetts Lowell, Lowell, MA. She can be reached via e-mail at

The authors have no conflicts of interests.

An Internal University Seed Grant funded this research.

© 2014 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.