Background Obesity during pregnancy is associated with a number of complications including gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM). Currently, little is known about guidelines in clinical practice and the challenges faced by heath care professionals (HCPs). The aim of this study was to understand the perceptions, approach and challenges faced by midwives, obstetricians and general practitioners who provide antenatal care to women who are overweight and obese during pregnancy with the view to informing the development of an antenatal lifestyle intervention.
Methods Semi-structured interviews were conducted with a purposive sample of health care professionals (HCPs) from Cork University Maternity Hospital (CUMH) (n=10) and with a sample of General Practitioners (GPs) working in primary care in the region (n=7). Data was collected until data saturation occurred. Interviews were digitally recorded and transcribed into NVivo V.10 software. Thematic analysis is on-going.
Results Preliminary results identified ‘knowledge of weight management’ and ‘antenatal services’ as key issues. A lack of knowledge was evident involving risks, complications and initiating a conversation around overweight and obesity in pregnancy. Variation exists around what is considered appropriate weight gain and whether HCPs were following any particular guidelines. HCPs expressed concern about the dramatic increase in the number of pregnant women who are overweight and obese and how weight perception has changed in society. Large ‘caseloads’ meant that lifestyle factors were not routinely discussed with the women and furthermore, a lack of communication is very evident between HCPs in the hospital and GPs in terms of the services provided.
Conclusion HCPs expressed challenges when communicating with their patients about weight management in pregnancy. By ensuring midwives and other HCPs have the knowledge, skills and opportunity to discuss weight and lifestyle factors with pregnant women, the women, in turn, may be more motivated to maintain healthy behaviour’s during pregnancy.
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