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Experiences of preparation for pregnancy in women with pre-gestational diabetes: a systematic review of qualitative studies

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Ruth Bell, Wendy Burke, Dr Joanne LallyORCiD, Dr Nicola HeslehurstORCiD, Professor Judith Rankin


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Aim: Many women with diabetes do not seek preconception advice. We aimed to synthesise available qualitative evidence on women’s and healthcare professionals’ experience of preparation for pregnancy and preconception care. Methods: We searched six electronic databases for qualitative studies. Two researchers undertook a thematic synthesis of the extracted data, generating a set of descriptive and subsequent analytical themes from the results of individual studies. Results: Ten studies using both focus groups and interviews were identified, including five from the UK. Five themes emerged. (1) Women received overwhelmingly negative messages about pregnancy and diabetes, leading to negative emotions including fear, anxiety and guilt. This sometimes led women to avoid seeking help before becoming pregnant. No positive messages about pregnancy success were reported. (2) Understanding of theeffects of diabetes on pregnancy was often incomplete or inaccurate. For example some women believed their fertility was reduced and became pregnant unexpectedly. Specific risks and how to minimise them were not usually fully understood. (3) The demands of preparing for pregnancy were perceived as an additional burden of diabetes. (4) Relationships with health professionals, both positive and negative, were important influences on the experience of preparing for pregnancy. Roles of health professionals were sometimes unclear. Conclusion: Better preparation for pregnancy has the potential to improve pregnancy outcome. Women’s views and experiences suggest that positive messages about the likelihood of a good outcome, together with specific information about why and how to seek support and advice, may improve engagement with preconception care.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Bell R, Burke W, Lally J, Heslehurst N, Rankin J

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Published

Conference Name: Diabetes UK Professional Conference 2013

Year of Conference: 2013

Pages: 116-117

Online publication date: 13/03/2013

ISSN: 0742-3071

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.


DOI: 10.1111/dme.12091_2

Library holdings: Search Newcastle University Library for this item

Series Title: Diabetic Medicine

ISBN: 14645491