pregnancy weight

In a recent Australian study, researchers sought to understand the experiences and perspectives of women managing pregnancy weight.

Women who are obese during pregnancy can have challenges with their health and the baby’s health can also be affected. Pregnant women with a high body mass index (BMI) are at an elevated risk of complications including gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, caesarean birth, and postoperative infections. Nonetheless, despite widespread concern for health and weight management in pregnancy, there still exists no evidence to inform policy guidelines regarding pregnancy weight management for pregnant women with a high BMI. This has become more evident among reproductive women in high-income countries who also have a high BMI.

There is a need for systematic strategies to ensure that pregnant women with a high BMI receive evidence-informed, effective, and supporting clinical care that assists them to manage pregnancy weight gain. In this Australian study, researchers sought to understand the experiences and perspectives of these pregnant women. As such, they focused on interviewing the women and midwives to learn how they approached pregnancy weight management.

As published in BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, researchers applied a qualitative approach to the study and used semi-structured questionnaires for the interviews. The interviews included 17 women and two midwives. Overall, the women were satisfied with the care they received. Both the women and the midwives did, however, express concerns about effective weight management during pregnancy. These interviews revealed some common themes of barriers to weight management and pregnancy. The themes were as follows:

  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
  5. Opportunities to assist women to manage their weight

These concerns were related to the difficulties that they experienced expressing and discussing issues of weight and the inconsistency that existed in terms of pregnancy weight management. Additionally, they also expressed the need to access more appropriate resources and additional support from other healthcare providers.

The study concluded that these women who had high BMI in pregnancy needed more support and information access regarding their weight management. It could, therefore, be more beneficial for them to receive education and literature prior to conception, during pregnancy, and at the post-natal period, in order to become more proactive in managing their weight during these periods.

Written by Dr. MòNique J. Grant Coke, DNP, MPH, BSN, Medical Writer

Reference: Holton, S., East, C., & Fisher, J. (2017). Weight management during pregnancy: a qualitative study of women’s and care providers’ experiences and perspectives. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth. 17:351 DOI 10.1186/s12884-017-1538-7

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