The role of antenatal and postnatal social support for pregnant women with a body mass index (BMI)≥30kg/m2

Debbie M Smith, Wendy Taylor, Tina Lavender

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Pregnancy can be both a time of change and increased stress for women. Through taking part in a research study and attending an antenatal lifestyle programme for women with a body mass index (BMI) ≥30kg/m2, a group of eight women formed a reference group and became a strong and effective source of social support for each other. This article discusses the role of social support from reference groups in engaging in postnatal healthy behaviours, such as physical activity (social learning theory) and protection against stressful situations (social support as a buffer for psychosocial stress), by presenting some observations and data from a number of women taking part in a larger research study and the literature base. Two conclusions are made in this discussion article and require further research attention in the opinion of the research team. First, health professionals should educate women about the different sources of social support that they may need during and after pregnancy; and second, they should provide antenatal opportunities for women to meet others with whom they can form a social support group (e.g. BMI can be the basis for a reference group).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)564-567
JournalBritish Journal of Midwifery
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Maternal obesity
  • social support
  • antenatal care
  • postnatal care


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