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Facilitators and barriers influencing weight management behaviours during pregnancy: a meta-synthesis of qualitative research

Interventions developed to promote and maintain weight management behaviours during pregnancy should consider all levels of influence over women’s behaviours, including women’s level of awareness and beliefs, experiences in antenatal care, education provision and social influence.

Tamara Escañuela Sánchez, Sarah Meaney, Caroline O'Connor, Laura Linehan, Keelin O'Donoghue
Journal Name
BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth
Journal Article
Full Citation
Escañuela Sánchez T, Meaney S, O’Connor C, Linehan L, O'Donoghue K, Byrne M, Matvienko-Sikar K. Facilitators and barriers influencing weight management behaviours during pregnancy: a meta-synthesis of qualitative research. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth. 2022;22:682.
Link to Publication


Previous research has associated overweight and obesity with an increased risk of stillbirth. In this study, we aimed to identify which factors influence women’s engagement in behaviours that facilitate weight management during pregnancy. We looked for all of the studies that have been previously published where the authors interviewed women regarding their engagement in weight management behaviours such as physical activity or dieting. Seventeen studies were included in our analysis, and we concluded that several factors influence women’s behaviour. First of all, women’s knowledge or beliefs about weight gain and weight management were important, for example, women's awareness of the recommendations regarding healthy eating or the safety of exercise played an important role. Secondly, women’s experiences in hospitals or clinics during their pregnancy were very important. Some women spoke about finding judgemental doctors or midwives which made them feel unsupported to engage in weight management behaviours. Also, women said that the information they received regarding diet and exercise was poor. And lastly, women mentioned that feeling judged by people in the general society had a negative influence, whereby overweight pregnant women were felt stigmatised and shamed in many situations, which made them not want to engage in weight management behaviours.

Pregnancy Loss Research Group

Pregnancy Loss Research Group, Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, University College Cork, Fifth Floor, Cork University Maternity Hospital, Wilton, Cork, T12 YE02, Ireland,