Midwives' experiences of supporting healthy gestational weight management: A mixed methods systematic literature review

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Excessive levels of gestational weight gain (GWG) are linked with poorer health outcomes for mother and baby, including an increased risk of pregnancy-related hypertension, labour induction, caesarean delivery and increased birth weight.

Objective: To explore literature relating to midwives’ experiences and challenges and identify interventions relating to GWG.

Design: This review was conducted in accordance with the Joanna Briggs Institute methodology for mixed methods systematic reviews. CINAHL complete, APA PsycArticles, APA PsycInfo, the Cochrane Library and MEDLINE were systematically searched in May 2022. Search terms related to midwives, advice, weight management and experiences were used. A PRISMA approach was taken to identify data and thematic analysis combined with descriptive statistics allowed synthesis and integration.

Findings: Fifty-seven papers were included and three overarching themes were generated; i) emotion and weight, ii) ability to influence and iii) practical challenges and strategies for success. Weight was consistently described as a sensitive topic. Challenges included level of expertise and comfort, perceptions of ability to influence and an awareness of incongruence of midwives’ own weight and the advice they are delivering. Interventions evaluated well with some self-reports of improved knowledge and confidence. There was no evidence of impact on practice or GWG.

Key conclusions: Although addressing maternal weight gain is an international priority due to the significant risks incurred, in this review we have identified multiple challenges for midwives to support women in healthy weight management. Identified interventions targeting midwives do not directly address the challenges identified and are therefore likely to be insufficient to improve existing practice.
Implications for practice: Partnership working and co-creation with women and midwives is essential to ensure knowledge about maternal weight gain is effectively shared across communities to catalyse change.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished (VoR) - 6 Jun 2023


  • gestational weight gain
  • obesity
  • maternal


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