“It's not easy” — A qualitative study of lifestyle change during pregnancy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Maternal lifestyle in the months leading up to conception and throughout pregnancy has both immediate and transgenerational impacts on offspring health. Aim: To explore how women's lifestyles change when they become pregnant, and their perspectives of the lifestyle advice they receive throughout pregnancy. Methods: A descriptive qualitative approach was used. Semi-structured interviews with 17 childbearing women (mean gestational age, 30.2 ± 2.0 weeks) recruited from a large hospital network in Victoria, Australia between July and October 2018 were transcribed and analysed using an inductive process of thematic analysis. Findings: Three themes and six sub-themes were identified. Lifestyle change during pregnancy was highly influenced by participants’ preconception lifestyle, the physiological demands of pregnancy and the pressures of daily life. While participants proactively sought lifestyle advice from a range of sources, including the Internet, they were generally less proactive in seeking advice during routine maternity care visits. Participants appreciated the lifestyle advice they received from health professionals, including midwives, as part of their maternity care despite acknowledging that they often received it only if they asked. Overall, it seemed that the lifestyle advice received from health professionals was much less influential on maternal lifestyle behaviour change than the broader socio-ecological environment. Conclusion: Childbearing women want lifestyle advice that supports positive lifestyle change during pregnancy and health professionals, including midwives, must be proactive as they provide it. Other factors that impact on childbearing women's capability and opportunity to make lifestyle change should be considered when providing advice that supports positive lifestyle behaviour change.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e363-e370
Number of pages8
JournalWomen and Birth
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020


  • Lifestyle
  • Nutrition
  • Physical activity
  • Pregnancy

Cite this