The perspectives of obese women receiving antenatal care: A qualitative study of women's experiences

Cathy Knight-Agarwal, Lauren Williams, Deborah Davis, Rachel Davey, Rebecca Shepherd, Alice Downing, Kathryn Lawson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The prevalence of overweight and obesity is increasing amongst women of child bearing age. Maternal obesity has implications for both mother and baby including increased health risks from gestational hypertensive disorders, caesarean section and stillbirth. Despite the increasing prevalence of maternal obesity little is known of the experiences of these women within the health care system. The aim of this research was to investigate the perspectives of pregnant women with a body mass index (BMI) of =30 kg/m2 receiving antenatal care. Methods: A qualitative study using individual interviews was undertaken. Sixteen pregnant women with a BMI =30 kg/m2 participated. Interviews were audio recorded, transcribed, cross checked for consistency and then entered into a word processing document for analysis. Data was analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. In any phenomenological study the researcher's objective is to elicit the participant's views on their lived experiences. Findings: Four major themes emerged: (1) obese during pregnancy as part of a long history of obesity; (2) lack of knowledge of the key complications of obesity for both mother and child; (3) communication about weight and gestational weight gain can be conflicting, confusing and judgmental; (4) most women are motivated to eat well during pregnancy and want help to do so. Conclusion: Specialist lifestyle interventions for obese women should be a priority in antenatal care. Extra support is required to assist obese women in pregnancy achieve recommended nutritional and weight goals. Health professionals should approach the issue of maternal obesity in an informative but non-judgmental way
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189-195
Number of pages7
JournalWomen and Birth
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2016


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