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Health Services


Dr. Raymond Thron


For more than 50 years, researchers have recognized complications associated with obesity and pregnancy as a problem for mothers and their unborn children. Despite this recognition, the rates of obesity and mortality in pregnant women have continued to rise. Using the health belief model, the transtheoretical model of behavior change, and the social cognitive theory as the theoretical frameworks, this phenomenological study examined barriers that might hinder the health of obese pregnant women and their unborn children. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 12 women who had a body mass index of 30 to 50, were between the ages of 18-55, and were at 20 to 30 gestational weeks. The data were coded for emergent inductive themes revealing (a) despite obesity and excessive weight gain, pregnant women believed they were healthy (b) labor and delivery decisions are hindered by uncertainty (c) pregnant women are comfortable when communication is not related to obesity, (d) pregnant obese women share the consumption of similar carbohydrates, (e) public rejection or support is influenced by self-concepts, (f) pregnant obese women believe that providers and the public treat them differently, (g) obesity and excessive weight gain is expected during pregnancy, and (h) stress and life circumstances are related. These findings promote implications for positive social change through the awareness that some pregnant obese women do not believe that they are obese, unhealthy, or prone to disease, and they do not view their weight as a health issue. Although further research is needed, these findings may aid providers and clinicians regarding awareness of factors that might hinder weight loss and the overall health and well-being of obese pregnant women and their children.