Tackling obesity – challenging midwives to be positive role models for a healthy lifestyle

Bothamley, Judy and Beaumont, Clare ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0183-1845 (2015) Tackling obesity – challenging midwives to be positive role models for a healthy lifestyle. In: Maternity, Midwifery and Baby Forum: Midwifery Exchange, 27 Feb 2015, London, UK. (Unpublished)

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Midwives are in a position of responsibility when promoting healthy choices for pregnant and postnatal women. Pregnant women with a raised BMI increase the health risks for themselves and their babies (CEMACE,2011, Scott-Pillai et al, 2013, MBRRACE, 2015). Midwives are in a position to advise women of the benefits of maintaining a healthy , balanced diet, avoiding high energy processed food and drinks and encouraging a regular exercise regime (NICE 2010). Pregnancy may increase motivation for changes and antenatal care offers an opportunity for interventions such as ‘teachable moments’ (Phelan, 2010, Flocke et al, 2013) and referral for specialist multidisciplinary input.

However, midwives feel uncomfortable raising the issue of obesity during pregnancy and many are reluctant to openly discuss a woman’s weight and the associated risk factors in pregnancy. Midwives need to reflect on their personal opinions and experiences surrounding weight management and understand the complexity of the issues, recognizing that there are no simple solutions.

NHS chief executive Simon Stevens has recently pointed the finger at health staff themselves. He claims that more than half of the NHS’s 1.3 million staff are overweight or obese and says that the health service has to “get its own act together” on obesity by helping staff to lose weight (National Health Service Executive, 2014). Is this unfair to target busy hardworking professionals or is this a way forward?

Lecturers at the University of West London (UWL) have incorporated a lifestyle challenge into the curriculum of the the 3 year undergraduate midwifery programme. The premise of this activity is to encourage students to develop their evidence based knowledge of what constitutes a healthy lifestyle, explore the practicalities of adopting positive health changes and develop empathy for pregnant women. Most students are enthusiastic about this challenge, but not all, which is an indication of the barriers and the sensitive nature of the problem.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Keynote)
Keywords: obesity; pregnancy; lifestyle; role model
Subjects: Education > Higher education
Education > Teaching and learning
Medicine and health > Midwifery
Depositing User: Clare Gordon
Date Deposited: 12 Jun 2017 14:13
Last Modified: 28 Aug 2021 07:23
URI: https://repository.uwl.ac.uk/id/eprint/3434


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