Aim: To explore obese women's perceptions of obesity as a risk factor in pregnancy and their experiences of NHS maternity care.
Methods: Open-ended, semi-structured interviews were used to gain an in-depth understanding of participants' experiences. Eight women were interviewed in their own homes in Edinburgh and the surrounding area . All had a pregnancy of beyond 34 weeks' gestation and had a body mass index (BMI) greater than 40 kg/m2 at pregnancy booking.
Findings: Participants were aware of obesity as a risk factor in pregnancy, but this awareness had developed only during the index pregnancy. Some participants felt the significant risks posed by obesity in pregnancy had not been explained adequately to them, both prior to and early in the pregnancy. This had caused significant anxiety in some cases.
Conclusions: There is a need for opportunistic health promotion aimed at disseminating information about the risks of obesity in pregnancy to overweight and obese women of childbearing age. In addition, midwives need guidance in discussing this sensitive issue with women, in order to promote open communication and effective clinical care.