Perspectives on weight gain and lifestyle practices during pregnancy among women with a history of macrosomia: a qualitative study in the Republic of Ireland

Type Article

Journal Article


E. Heery; A. McConnon; C. C. Kelleher; P. G. Wall; F. M. McAuliffe

Year of publication



BMC Pregnancy Childbirth







BACKGROUND: Excessive weight gain during pregnancy is a major risk factor for macrosomia (high birth weight delivery). This study aimed to explore views about weight gain and lifestyle practices during pregnancy among women with a history of macrosomia. METHODS: A qualitative descriptive study was conducted. Twenty-one second-time mothers whose first infant was macrosomic (>4 kg) were recruited from a randomised trial in a large maternity hospital in the Republic of Ireland. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with participants at both 6 and 12 months after their second pregnancy. Inductive thematic analysis was used to identify distinct themes. RESULTS: The mothers believed in following their prenatal food cravings to meet their baby's needs, but this led some to eat excessively. Many of the women cut back heavily on physical activity during pregnancy due to perceived risks to the baby. Physical conditions and discomforts during pregnancy often limited maternal control over weight and lifestyle practices. The women were not particularly concerned about weight gain during pregnancy and most did not favour the notion of introducing weight gain guidelines into routine antenatal care. Common differences perceived by the women between their first and second pregnancy included: increased concern about weight gain in their second pregnancy due to prior difficulties with postpartum weight loss and increased time demands in their second pregnancy impeded healthy lifestyle practices. Most women did not alter their perspectives on weight gain and lifestyle practices in their second pregnancy in response to having a macrosomic infant in their first pregnancy. CONCLUSIONS: This analysis exposed numerous barriers to healthy pregnancy weight gain. The findings suggest that women may need to be advised to follow their prenatal food cravings in moderation. Pregnant women with children already may benefit from education on time-efficient methods of integrating healthy eating practices and physical activity into their lifestyles. Women with a history of macrosomia may need information about the importance of avoiding high weight gain in subsequent pregnancies.