Physical activity is important for health, but little is known about associations between physical activity during pregnancy and breastfeeding. The aim of this study was to investigate any association between antenatal physical activity and breastfeeding duration. A prospective cohort of 2030 Vietnamese women, recruited between 24 and 28 week-gestation was followed up to twelve months postpartum. Physical activity was determined using the pregnancy physical activity questionnaire at baseline interview. Data was available for 1715 participants at 12 months, a 15.5% attrition rate. At 12 months 71.8% of mothers were still breastfeeding. A total of 20.9% women met physical activity targets and those mothers undertaking higher levels of physical activity had a lower risk of breastfeeding cessation by twelve months [hazard ratios HR = 0.59 (95% CI 0.47-0.74), p < 0.001, and HR = 0.74 (0.60-0.92), p = 0.006; respectively] when compared to the lowest tertile. Similarly, women with increased levels of physical activity have higher rates of breastfeeding at twelve months, compared to the lowest level [odds ratio OR = 1.71 (95% CI 1.29-2.25) and 1.38 (1.06-1.79)]. Higher levels of physical activity by pregnant women are associated with improved breastfeeding outcomes.
Keywords: Vietnam; breastfeeding; breastfeeding duration; physical activity; pregnancy; prospective cohort.