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Diverse Women's Beliefs About Weight Gain in Pregnancy


  • Susan W. Groth RN, WHNP-BC, PhD,

    Corresponding author
    1. Susan W. Groth, RN, WHNP-BC, PhD, is an assistant professor of nursing at the University of Rochester School of Nursing and practices as a women's health nurse practitioner at Hillside Family of Agencies in Rochester, NY.
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  • Margaret H. Kearney RN, PhD

    1. Margaret H. Kearney, RN, PhD, FAAN, is the Independence Foundation Professor and PhD Programs Director at the University of Rochester School of Nursing, Rochester, NY, and a former women's health nurse practitioner.
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University of Rochester School of Nursing, 601 Elmwood Ave., Box SON, Rochester, NY 14642. E-mail:


This research was conducted to describe ethnically diverse new mothers' perceptions of gestational weight gain. Forty-nine low-income women of diverse racial and ethnic origins who birthed an infant within the past year completed a semistructured interview in a pediatric clinic waiting room. The interviews were designed to elicit views on gestational weight gain, including expectations and perceived consequences. Data were analyzed using content analysis techniques. Women believed that others like themselves were concerned about pregnancy weight gain. Many focused on the effects of insufficient pregnancy weight gain on the infant but were not aware of the infant risks of excessive gain. Several had inaccurate knowledge of appropriate gestational weight gain, and many suggested an amount below the current recommendations. One-third of the women believed women will weigh more following pregnancy, yet others assumed that even with excessive weight gain there would be a return to prepregnant weight following pregnancy. Pregnancy-related weight gain is disturbing to women. Health care providers have the opportunity to intervene by acknowledging these concerns and providing information and support to help women make positive choices and achieve appropriate weight gain.