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Women’s health and midwifery
Fear of inducing guilt or shame affects midwives’ communication about body weight with pregnant women
  1. Lou Atkinson
  1. School of Life and Health Sciences, Aston University, Birmingham, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Lou Atkinson, School of Life and Health Sciences, Aston University, Birmingham B4 7ET, UK; l.atkinson1{at}

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Commentary on: Christenson A, Johansson E, Reynisdottir S, et al. Shame and avoidance as barriers in midwives' communication about body weight with pregnant women: a qualitative interview study. Midwifery 2018; 63:1-7

Implications for practice and research

  • Increasing public awareness of the risks of excess gestational weight gain (GWG), combined with universal weight monitoring and advice throughout pregnancy would reduce midwives’ reticence to discuss weight.

  • Research is needed to better understand the explicit and implicit attitudes towards GWG, and midwives’ potential role in influencing these.


Evidence has accumulated for over a decade that gaining a lot of weight during pregnancy carries serious risks for both woman and baby. As the primary antenatal care providers in many healthcare systems around the world, midwives have a vital role in advising and supporting women to have a healthy GWG. This study …

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  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.