The pregnancy experience for women with a body mass index >30kg/m2; a meta-synthesis.

Debbie M Smith, Tina Lavender

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Maternal obesity (body mass index, BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2) is a global public health issue. There is a dearth of evidence regarding an effective maternal care pathway for pregnant women with a BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2.
Objectives: This meta-synthesis aims to increase our understanding of the maternity experience for pregnant women with a BMI ≥30 kg/m2.
Search strategy: Six electronic databases were searched using predefined search terms.
Selection criteria: English-language studies using qualitative data to explore the maternity experience for women with a BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2 were included (defined by a quality appraisal framework).
Data collection and analysis: An interpretative approach was taken and the constructivist framework was central to the synthesis. Searches were conducted in September 2010, and resulted in six papers being synthesised.
Main results: Three cluster themes (eight initial themes) were highlighted: acceptance and inevitability of weight gain in pregnancy; depersonalisation of care as a result of medicalisation; and healthy lifestyle benefits for self and baby.
Author’s conclusions: Pregnancy is an ideal period for health professionals to intervene, as women with a BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2 perceive their weight as more acceptable than when they were not pregnant, and are aware of the benefits of having a healthy lifestyle. Antenatal care should include postnatal weight management advice, as this is the period when women with a BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2 want to lose weight; this may enable subsequent pregnancies to start with a lower BMI. Such advice should be sensitive and tailored to the individual. Social representations theory provides a framework for understanding maternal obesity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)779-789
JournalBritish Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes


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