An interpretive review of women's experiences of gestational diabetes mellitus: Proposing a framework to enhance midwifery assessment

Bianca U. Devsam, Fiona E. Bogossian, Ann S. Peacock

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

52 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) affects almost 5% of pregnancies in Australia, and within 15 years, 25% of affected women will go on to develop Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM). The adoption of preventive health behaviours may be influenced by women's experiences of GDM. Question: This review sought to understand women's beliefs, values, perceptions and experiences following diagnosis of GDM. Methods: Peer reviewed and professional journals were searched for primary research, published between January 1991 and December 2011 that explored the beliefs, values, perceptions and experiences of peripartum or postpartum women with a diagnosis or history of GDM. Findings: Nineteen studies met the inclusion criteria and the majority of these studies were qualitative (n=15). Each study was reviewed and synthesis revealed three emergent themes and core concepts related to each theme: Responses (initial reaction to GDM diagnosis, negative thoughts following diagnosis, struggle to manage GDM, feelings of 'loss of control', changes to identity and adapting to change), Focus of Concern (concern for baby's health, mother's concern for her own health, perceived seriousness of GDM, perceived fear of T2DM) and Influencing Factors (cultural roles and beliefs, social stigmas, social support, professional support, adequate and appropriate information, social roles and barriers to self-care). Conclusion: The experiences of women with GDM are unique and personal however this review highlights common experiences evident in the existing research. The proposed framework may be used by midwives in clinical assessment and care of women diagnosed with GDM.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e69-e76
Number of pages8
JournalWomen and Birth
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Beliefs
  • Experiences
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Postpartum
  • Pregnancy

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