Information-seeking about diet and physical activity during a first pregnancy: an interpretative phenomenological analysis


  • L. Atkinson
  • R. Shaw
  • D. French


Background Pregnancy is a time when women may be more motivated to improve their diet and physical activity behaviours. By contrast, a first pregnancy is a period of intense change and women often report being overloaded with information. Our study aimed to explore women’s receptiveness to health messages and information seeking behaviour at this time. Methods Seven women participated during the second half of their first pregnancy. In-depth interviews guided by a broad topic guide were conducted, to elicit views on health behaviour change during pregnancy, and on the relative importance and trustworthiness of different sources of information. Verbatim transcripts were analysed using Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis. Findings Information-seeking varied greatly between participants, with some voracious and proactive, and others actively avoiding information. This variation was linked to ease or difficulty in conceiving and degree of acceptance of their new mother role. Overall, women perceived health professionals, books and the internet as more reliable and trustworthy than information from friends, magazines and television. The immediacy of online sources to answer questions or relieve anxieties was valued by some women. Some women valued experiential advice from non-professionals, while others believed their own pregnancy to be unique. Midwives’ advice was universally trusted but rarely the first choice when seeking information, due to infrequent contact. Discussion While these women were receptive to health messages, innovative strategies may be needed to promote a healthy lifestyle to pregnant women who do not proactively seek information. Signposting to credible and accurate information online may be beneficial.





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