Experiences of Low Gestational Weight Gain: A Phenomenological Study with Pregnant Women


Low maternal, gestational weight gain is associated with preterm birth, intrauterine growth restriction, low birthweight, small-for-gestational-age infants, neural tube defects, infant death, failure to initiate breastfeeding, and childhood asthma. The advantage of qualitative research is it can provide valuable insights for health care professionals into the experience and perceptions of low gestational weight gain from the vantage point of women with first-hand lived experience. In this Heideggarian interpretive phenomenological study, the meaning and experiences of weight gain for pregnant women with low gestational weight gain were explored. Data were collected through interviews with 10 pregnant women from Atlantic Canada. Conroy’s pathway for interpretive phenomenology was utilized. A hermeneutical spiral of interpretation identified six patterns or major themes: confronting one’s mortality; defending oneself against a permanent metamorphosis into a stranger; playing with fire and brimstone; slipping under the radar; trying to find peace; and riding an emotional roller coaster. The findings point to a war that is being waged over pregnant bodies with respect to weight that leaves pregnant women fending for themselves, apparently with little help from their health care providers. Implications of the findings for health practice, education, and research are discussed.

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Murray, C. and Conroy, S. (2014) Experiences of Low Gestational Weight Gain: A Phenomenological Study with Pregnant Women. Health, 6, 2611-2623. doi: 10.4236/health.2014.619300.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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