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Starting pregnancy carrying excess weight and gaining too much weight during pregnancy are acknowledged as some of the most important current women’s health issues by scientists and clinicians.

Antenatal care, delivered by healthcare professionals to people during pregnancy aims to protect the health of the mother and child. But these settings can also be a context where patients can experience weight stigma – bias or discrimination based on one’s weight.

The current clinical guidelines for addressing excess weight in pregnancy in antenatal care recommend that HCPs explain to pregnant people with obesity how being overweight poses a risk, both to their health and the health of the unborn child, offer a referral for assessment and personalised advice on healthy eating and how to be physically active in pregnancy and encourage them to lose weight after pregnancy. But there is no guidance on how they should communicate these recommendations.

This project will use conversation analysis techniques to identify examples of good practice around addressing weight during pregnancy and utilise various qualitative research methods (in-depth interviews and focus groups) to explore the dynamics between the priorities of healthcare professionals and pregnant people in relation to speaking about weight during pregnancy.

The aim of the project is to bring together the findings to develop a training module on how healthcare professionals should speak about weight to people during pregnancy in a manner to minimise stigma and discrimination and maximise motivation to change behaviour which will help attenuate gestational weight gain or achieve weight loss postpartum.

This project will suit students with interest in women’s health and obesity from a range of backgrounds including, nursing midwifery, psychology, and the social sciences.

Supervisory Team