Carol Richardson: What are obese pregnant women’s perceptions of maternity care alongside healthcare provider’s views? Seeking the true BMI… (Best Maternity Input).

Researcher: Carol Richardson

My name is Carol Richardson and I work as a midwife in a busy NHS Hospital Trust as well as a Supervisor of Midwives. I have a passion for my work and a keen interest in nutrition and fitness so when the opportunity of a PhD studentship with Bournemouth University arose looking at the subject of maternal obesity, I jumped at the chance. My PhD journey will develop over 4 years and will also give me the time to continue        working clinically in order to maintain my skills.

To summarise my proposed research, I aim to gain a greater understanding of obese women’s experiences of      receiving care when they are pregnant, alongside midwives’ perceptions and views of the challenges they face when providing this care. It is hoped that the findings of this research will contribute to the evidence base for best practice and provide recommendations for practice that enable women to adapt their lifestyles in a positive and life-affirming way. It is vital that an effective way of engaging with these women is implemented, to enable them to reduce risks.

Research Objectives

1.) What are women’s views when faced with the challenges of pregnancy as a vulnerable obese pregnant woman? Could they identify a package of care that would encourage them to adapt their lifestyle?

2.) What are midwives’ views when faced with the challenges when caring for obese pregnant women? Could they suggest service improvement and identify training requirements?

There is evidence to support the fact that healthcare providers feel a sense of futility in treating obese patients and that their advice and counselling are unlikely to improve eating and activity behaviours resulting in a reduction of body weight. A further aspect that would require exploring is how we can reduce the negative stereotyping and      attitudes towards obese patients.

As this study seeks to explore obese women’s experiences of receiving care in pregnancy, a qualitative approach is being considered. The method of qualitative study will allow me to explore behaviour, perspectives, feelings, and experiences in depth, quality and complexity of a situation through a holistic framework. However, a contrasting quantitative study method may also need to be adopted as the project question evolves.