The views and attitudes of health professionals providing antenatal care to women with a high BMI: A qualitative research study

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Journal Article
Women and Birth, 2014, 27 (2), pp. 138 - 144
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Background: The prevalence of overweight and obesity is increasing amongst women of child bearing age. The objective of this study was to investigate the views and attitudes of providers of antenatal care for women who have a body mass index (BMI) of 30kg/m2 and over. Methods: A qualitative study using focus groups was undertaken within the department of obstetrics and gynaecology at a large teaching hospital in south-eastern Australia. Three focus group discussions were held. One with hospital midwives (n= 10), one with continuity of care midwives (n= 18) and one with obstetricians (n= 5). Data were analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). Findings: Six dominant themes emerged: (1) obesity puts the health of mothers, babies and health professionals at risk; (2) overweight and obesity has become the norm; (3) weighing women and advising about weight gain is out of fashion; (4) weight is a sensitive topic to discuss; (5) there are significant barriers to weight control in pregnancy; and (6) health professionals and women need to deal with maternal obesity. These themes are drawn together to form a model representing current health care issues for these women. Conclusion: Health professionals, who have a high BMI, can find it difficult to discuss obesity during antenatal visits with obese women. Specialist dietary interventions and evidence based guidelines for working with child-bearing women is seen as a public health priority by health care professionals. © 2013.
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