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01.12.2017 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2017 Open Access

BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth 1/2017

Weight management during pregnancy: a qualitative study of women’s and care providers’ experiences and perspectives

BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth > Ausgabe 1/2017
Sara Holton, Christine East, Jane Fisher



Obesity during pregnancy is a serious health problem for women and their children. Despite the high prevalence of high body mass index (BMI) among women of reproductive age in high-income countries, there is insufficient evidence to inform practice and policy about weight management for women with high BMI who are pregnant. The aim of this project was to describe women’s and midwives’ experiences and perspectives of care for weight management during pregnancy in Melbourne, Australia.


A qualitative study. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with pregnant women and midwives. Transcripts were analysed thematically.


A total of 17 women and 2 midwives were interviewed. Five themes were identified: 1. Reluctance to and difficulties discussing weight and its implications; 2. Barriers to providing appropriate pregnancy care for women with high BMI; 3. Inconsistent weighing practices; 4. Beliefs about the causes of obesity; and 5. Opportunities to assist women to manage their weight. Although most women were satisfied with the pregnancy care they had received, both women and midwives expressed concerns about effective weight management during pregnancy. These included constraints on discussing weight, difficulties accessing appropriate resources and additional support from other health care providers, and inconsistent weighing practices.


The findings suggest that women with high BMI would benefit from additional information and support about weight management prior to conception, during pregnancy, and postnatally.
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