Prairie Women's Health Centre of Excellence

  Weight Expectations: Experiences and Needs of Overweight and Obese Pregnant Women and their Health Care Providers


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MP3 Podcast 1 (mp3/6MB)
MP3 Podcast 2 (mp3/18MB)

More Information

If you have any questions regarding the report, or would like to order more copies, please contact PWHCE at (204) 982-6630 or

The research and publication of this study were funded by the Prairie Women's Health Centre of Excellence (PWHCE). The PWHCE is financially supported by the Centre of Excellence for Women's Health Program, Bureau of Women's Health and Gender Analysis, Health Canada. The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the views of the PWHCE or the official policy of Health Canada.

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J. Bernier, Y. Hanson, T. Barber

Executive Summary

In recent years, Canada and many other countries have witnessed a rise in rates of overweight and obesity, motivating researchers, health care providers and policy makers to focus more attention on the relationships between overweight and obesity and health. This focus has included examining the impact of overweight and obesity on maternal and newborn health, resulting in a breadth of knowledge about potential negative health outcomes for both mothers and babies . There is a gap, however, in the literature relating to the psychological, emotional, and social implications of overweight and obesity in pregnancy, as well as the self-described experiences of women with overweight or obesity and those of their health care providers.

In order to address this gap, the Atlantic Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health and the Prairie Women’s Health Centre of Excellence interviewed both women who were overweight or obese during pregnancy and health care providers about their experiences. The objective of this qualitative study was to increase understanding of women’s experiences with maternity care, including the psychological, emotional, and social implications of overweight and obesity in pregnancy. In addition, it was important to gain knowledge about practitioners’ experiences with maternity care for overweight and obese women to better understand what is required for providing optimal care to this group of women. Thirty three individuals were interviewed in Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan, including 18 women who had experienced overweight and obesity during pregnancy and 15 health care providers who worked with pregnant women with overweight and obesity, including family physicians, obstetricians and gynaecologists, midwives, nurses, and registered dieticians. The semi- structured interviews consisted of conversations around all stages of pregnancy and the models of practice used to provide maternity care from both the perspectives of the women and practitioners. The findings from this study offer insights into women’s experiences of overweight and obesity while receiving maternity care, the challenges and successes for practitioners in providing optimal care for this population, and recommendations on how maternity care for this group of women may be improved.

Key findings from this study include:
(1) Psychological, Emotional and Social Aspects of Obesity and Overweight during Pregnancy
(2) Pre-Pregnancy and Conception
(3) Pregnancy
(4) Labour and Delivery
(5) Post-pregnancy
(6) Quality of Care


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Discussion on this report can also be found in the following two podcasts. Click on links below to hear the womens voices.

MP3 Podcast I (mp3/6MB)
MP3 Podcast 2 (mp3/18MB)

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