A qualitative study of the experiences of women who are obese and pregnant in the UK

Linda Mcgowan, Christine M. Furber, Linda McGowan

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Objective: to explore the experiences related to obesity in women with a body mass index (BMI)>35kg/m 2 during the childbearing process. Design: a qualitative design was used. Data were collected using semi-structured interviews and field notes. Women were interviewed in the third trimester of pregnancy and between three and nine weeks after the birth. Transcribed data were analysed using framework analysis methods. Setting: one maternity service in the North of England. Participants: 19 women with BMI>35kg/m 2. Findings: these women highlighted their feelings of humiliation, and the stigma associated with being pregnant, when obese. Interactions with health professionals and the general public reinforced their discomfort about their size. The high-risk status of their pregnancy increased the medicalisation of their pregnancy. The ultrasound scan was a significant source of distress if difficulties imaging the fetus were not clearly explained during the procedure. Key conclusions: pregnant women who are obese are sensitive of their size. The interactions with health professionals and others that they encounter may increase distress. Implications for practice: health professionals should be more aware of the psychological implications of being obese. Communication strategies about care should be clear and honest, and conveyed in a sensitive manner. Written comments related to size on 'hand-held' notes should be explained at the time of writing. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)437-444
    Number of pages7
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Aug 2011


    • Framework analysis
    • Obesity
    • Pregnancy
    • Qualitative


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