Promoting healthy eating in pregnancy: what kind of support services do women say they want?

Ellinor K. Olander*, Lou Atkinson, Jemma K. Edmunds, David P. French

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To identify characteristics of the services and support women want to enable them to eat healthily during pregnancy to make a potential future service acceptable to this population. An unhealthy diet during pregnancy may have a significant influence on pregnancy outcome, either directly through nutrient deficiencies or indirectly through maternal weight gain. Many pregnant women in the United Kingdom gain too much weight in pregnancy, and this weight gain may lead to an increased risk of preeclampsia, gestational diabetes and having an obese child. Thus, there is a need for interventions aimed at improving healthy eating in pregnancy. It is crucial in developing successful interventions to understand how participation can be maximised by optimising intervention acceptability. Four focus groups were conducted; two with prenatal women (n = 9) and two with postnatal women (n = 14). Discussion focused on identifying relevant characteristics of a service targeting prenatal and postnatal women's eating to ensure that a future service was acceptable to the women. The participants' responses were clustered into three broad themes: (1) early information leading to routine formation of healthier eating habits, (2) the delivery of practical sessions to increase information and (3) health professionals providing support and signposting to services. The participants reported wanting a practical service held in a convenient location, preferably led by women who have been pregnant themselves. The participants also reported wanting to be offered this service in pregnancy to help them get into a routine before they gave birth. Several suggestions for how this service should be marketed were mentioned, including through midwives and the internet. This research provides practical information for how to design support for prenatal women to increase their knowledge and practical skills regarding eating healthily during their pregnancy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)237-243
Number of pages7
JournalPrimary health care research & development
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2012


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