• Open Access

Women's perspectives are required to inform the development of maternal obesity services: a qualitative study of obese pregnant women's experiences




Increasing maternal obesity trends and accompanying risks have led to the development of guidelines internationally. However, the evidence-base is poor for effective intervention, and there is a lack of representation from the perspective of obese pregnant women in guidelines. Women's engagement with weight management support services is low.


To explore obese pregnant women's experiences to better understand factors which need to be considered when developing services that women will find acceptable and utilize.


Obese women referred to an antenatal dietetic service in the Northeast of England, UK.


Low-structured depth-interviews allowed women to freely discuss their own experiences. Discussion prompts were included; however, issues that women raised were explored thoroughly. Women summarized what they considered most important to ensure the analyses placed appropriate emphasis on factors women perceived as important. Thematic analysis identified common themes. Saturation was confirmed after 15 interviews.


Key issues included: women's weight; families; experience of negativity; and priorities and desired outcomes. These combined represented women's perspectives of issues which they considered important and integral to their lived experience of being obese and pregnant. The theme incorporates women's pregnancy-related experiences, as well as life experiences which contributed to how they felt about their weight during pregnancy.


There are strong associations with women's lived experiences and engagement with antenatal weight management services. Incorporating women's perspectives in the development of these services could encourage engagement by focussing on women's priorities and motivations, while taking into consideration their socially related experiences in addition to their clinical health needs.