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Obesity in pregnancy: a study of the impact of maternal obesity on NHS maternity services

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Nicola HeslehurstORCiD, Dr Rebecca Lang, Professor Judith Rankin


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Objective To gain a detailed understanding of healthcare professionals' perceptions of the impact that caring for obese pregnant women has on maternity services. Design Qualitative interview study using purposeful sampling and face-to-face interviews. Setting Sixteen maternity units in NHS Trusts in the North East Government Office Region of England, UK. Sample Thirty-three maternity and obstetric healthcare professionals with personal experience of managing the care of obese pregnant women. Methods Semi-structured interviews with healthcare professionals representing each maternity unit in the region. Transcripts were analysed using systematic content analysis. Main outcome measures Views on the impact maternal obesity has on maternity services, the facilities required to care for obese mothers in pregnancy, and existing services directed towards maternal obesity. Results Five dominant themes relating to service delivery emerged; booking appointments, equipment, care requirements, complications and restrictions, and current and future management of care. Many of the issues identified were associated with managing the care of obese women in pregnancy safely, resources and cost issues to be able to do this, multidisciplinary care requirements because of coexisting morbidities when the mother is obese, and restricted care options and patient choice. Conclusions Healthcare professionals in the North East of England feel that maternal obesity has a major impact on services and resource, on the health of both the mother and child, and on the psychological wellbeing of the mother.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Heslehurst N, Lang R, Rankin J, Wilkinson JR, Summerbell CD

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: BJOG: an international journal of obstetrics and gynaecology

Year: 2007

Volume: 114

Issue: 3

Pages: 334-342

ISSN (print): 1470-0328

ISSN (electronic): 0140-7686

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell


DOI: 10.1111/j.1471-0528.2006.01230.x


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