A qualitative exploration of influences on eating behaviour throughout pregnancy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Pregnancy is often conceptualised as a ‘teachable moment’ for health behaviour change. However, it is likely that different stages of pregnancy, and individual antenatal events, provide multiple distinct teachable moments to prompt behaviour change. Whilst previous quantitative research supports this argument, it is unable to provide a full understanding of the nuanced factors influencing eating behaviour. The aim of this study was to explore influences on women’s eating behaviour throughout pregnancy.
Methods: In-depth interviews were conducted online with 25 women who were less than six-months postpartum. Interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. Data were analysed thematically.
Results: Five themes were generated from the data that capture influences on women’s eating behaviour throughout pregnancy: ‘The preconceptual self’, ‘A desire for good health’, ‘Retaining control’, ‘Relaxing into pregnancy’, and ‘The lived environment’.
Conclusions: Mid-pregnancy may provide a more salient opportunity for eating behaviour change than other stages of pregnancy. Individual antenatal events, such as the glucose test, can also prompt change. In clinical practice, it will be important to consider the changing barriers and facilitators operating throughout pregnancy, and to match health advice to stages of pregnancy, where possible. Existing models of teachable moments may be improved by considering the dynamic nature of pregnancy, along with the influence of the lived environment, pregnancy symptoms, and past behaviour. These findings provide an enhanced understanding of the diverse influences on women’s eating behaviour throughout pregnancy and provide a direction for how to adapt existing theories to the context of pregnancy.
Original languageEnglish
Article number939
Pages (from-to)939
JournalBMC Pregnancy and Childbirth
Issue number1
Early online date15 Dec 2022
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2022


  • Female
  • Pregnancy
  • Humans
  • Qualitative Research
  • Health Behavior
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Postpartum Period


Dive into the research topics of 'A qualitative exploration of influences on eating behaviour throughout pregnancy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this