The lived experiences of women exploring healthy lifestyle, gestational weight gain and physical activity throughout pregnancy. Lived experiences of pregnancy

Lisa Newson*, Kathryn Bould, Bronte Aspin Woods, Lauren Sinclair, Zainab Ikramullah, Julie Abayomi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

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Background: Weight gain is inevitable during pregnancy. However, high pre-pregnancy Body Mass Index and excessive Gestational Weight Gain are associated with poor pregnancy outcomes. Understanding the experiences, social influences and decisions women make to maintain a healthy lifestyle during pregnancy are essential to consider how to improve services and interventions to help women engage in healthy diet and PA behaviours.
Objective: The study investigated women's opinions and lived experiences of engaging in a healthy diet, promoting optimal gestational weight gain and physical activity during and after pregnancy.
Design and Methods: Twenty-two pregnant women contributed to qualitative data collection for this Grounded Theory study. Nineteen women completed semi-structured interviews and three Patient and Public involvement (PPI) representatives sought to validate the analysis and GT framework.
Results: Two substantive categories were constructed: (1) Evolving from 'I' to 'we', as informed by two sub-categories and (2) the power of information and guidance, as informed by three sub-categories. These categories informed the core category, ‘A navigational journey and evolution of the pregnant self’. The navigational journey involves constantly searching for knowledge and information to support and balance the interests of personal beliefs, the health of their unborn baby, their social circle and the wider world. A woman's psychological capability (for example, their knowledge of a healthy lifestyle and confidence to implement such knowledge) is continuously tested.
Conclusions: Pregnancy may create a 'teachable moment' but there is a need for appropriate guidance from professionals to assist with lifestyle choices during pregnancy. The findings showed a significant influence of online resources, and lack of guidance on behaviour during pregnancy and may highlight areas of focus for future research and intervention.
Public Contribution: Three pregnant women were recruited to act as PPI representatives to assist with the validation of the analytical findings and aid the final theoretical saturation of the GT framework. Commentary from these PPI representatives was used to validate the analysis and support the interpretation of the data. In addition, these PPI representatives were also invited to provide commentary on the draft manuscript and those involved in this later process have been included as co-authors.
Original languageEnglish
JournalHealth Expectations
Publication statusPublished - 5 May 2022


  • Grounded theory
  • qualitative
  • experiences
  • gestational weight gain
  • pregnancy
  • obesity
  • physical activity


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